Home / Culture and Society / Health and Fitness / Licence to Inhale? England Mulls Tough New Anti-Smoking Measure

Licence to Inhale? England Mulls Tough New Anti-Smoking Measure

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An English government agency, Health England, this week proposed a radical licensing scheme which would force smokers to apply for a permit in order to be able to buy cigarettes.

The permit, which would cost £10, would be renewable each year by the smoker’s doctor, and would have to be shown to retailers in order to make any tobacco purchase. Professor Julian Le Grand, Health England’s chairman, claimed that the new bureaucratic obstacle would encourage smokers to quit. “70% of smokers actually want to stop smoking. So if you just make it that little bit more difficult for them to actually re-start or even to start in the first place, yes, I think it will make a big difference.”

Britons are no strangers to curbs on their puffing privileges. Beginning in the 1960s, progressively more restrictive new laws addressing the marketing, sale, taxation, health effects and public consumption of tobacco products have made smoking an ever more daunting prospect. The trend culminated last summer in the introduction of a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces such as pubs and restaurants.

Although drastic, the idea of a smokers’ permit may not be as controversial as it might first seem. The public smoking ban has proved both popular and effective, with 50% of smokers reporting that they were smoking less since the legislation came into effect. The government in Scotland, where a smoking ban came into force a year before the English one, reported that the health and environmental benefits had been almost immediate, with drastic reductions in secondhand smoke and hospital coronary admissions.

But the plan has drawn criticism from smokers’ rights group Forest, who say that smokers are already penalized by the heavy taxes which are levied on cigarettes and should be free to make their own choice. “We are becoming not just a nanny state but a bully state,” the group’s spokesman, Simon Clark, said. “There are a whole host of things out there that are potentially dangerous. If smokers are targeted in this way, it’s a very short step to slapping a similar charge on anyone who wants to buy alcohol or any other product ministers don’t approve of.”

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About Dr Dreadful

  • ChrisB

    It’s so easy to pick up bits of news from a long way away and to miss out on some very important points.
    Firstly Julian Le Grand, who suggested the £10 licence made the comment — “I don’t actually think the arguments on passive smoking are all that strong.” — on Friday night on National radio . So is this anti-smoking measure in response to a real danger or to create Government control?

    Secondly, statements of percentage popularity are extremely doubtful just as is all information created and issued by self interest groups. Such a statement is the “…. drastic reductions in secondhand smoke and hospital coronary admissions.” Of course there is less smoke where there is no longer smoke but that is commonsense, doesn’t need so-called science and is stated to hide all damage.

    The second part of the statement is, however extremely misleading and remains on the ASH website despite being thoroughly debunked. “The facts in the way of a good story” shows very clearly that official admission rates were in line with previous years at around 8% but well below the 11% drop in 1999/2000.

  • The Haze

    ChrisB – you used the C-word(control)! Be careful or else you’ll be labeled a….a….chicken little! Christ! They got their guns away from them over there,this one should be a no brainer. Once sharia law is introduced they’ll be buried in the grounds up to their necks and they can flick lit cigarette butts at ’em! We are headed to a strange place people so put your helmets on…….it may be a bit bumpy! BTW – GOD BLESS AMERICA!(as f**ked up as it is,it’s still the best show in town!…….for now)

  • Chris – good points. But you seem to have missed that I posted this as News, not Opinion. I tried to present the item in as balanced a way as I could.

    We’ve had some lively debates about smoking on BC in the past, and this struck me as an interesting development worth talking about.

  • STM

    Hey Doc, always good to see the gun lovers get in their two-bob’s worth about guns, sharia law and helmets on a thread about … smoking.

    Any pitiful excuse to justify 300 million legal weapons in a country that appears civilised in most other respects, eh? It’d be good if they ever actually understood the reasons why America has the world’s highest rate of gun homicide and places like the UK and Australia don’t. It’d be good too if they understood that the rest of the world thinks that one particular aspect of the American delusion of “freedom” makes them a laughing stock (pardon the pun).

    Anyway, back to the topic I’m over the anti-smoking mob. We all know smoking’s bad for us, and gave up for a few years and started again recently, but I don’t need the nanny state and every second totally obsessed anti-smoker telling me what to do.

    I don’t want them in my life when it comes to this stuff.

    I won’t smoke if they don’t fart or breathe beery breath all over me. How’s that for a deal?

  • I can picture The Haze standing in the middle of his living room, clutching his AK-47, his army surplus helmet jammed down on his head and his crucifix clutched between his teeth, The Green Berets playing on the VCR, waiting for ‘Them’ to burst through the door and starting at every little sound…

  • RufusT

    ChrisB is absolutely right with regard to the mythical 17% which was an example of science by press release just before a big tobacco control conference in Scotland (the proper stats arrived about two months later in the routine reporting).

    The idea of a smoking permit is just plain stupid, no other word for it, especially as HMRC (the people who collect the tobacco duty) estimate that 1/3 of all tobacco smoked in the UK entered the country without them getting their slice. People who are illegally importing cigarretes are unlikely to be too bothered about their customers having permits.

  • The Haze


  • STM


    That’s the best you can do?

  • The Haze

    Sufficient is a better word STD.