UK Considering “Permit” To Buy Cigarettesby Brad Warbiany
A ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone who does not pay for a government smoking permit has been proposed by Health England, a ministerial advisory board.
The idea is the brainchild of the board’s chairman, Julian Le Grand, who is a professor at the London School of Economics and was Tony Blair’s senior health adviser. In a paper being studied by Lord Darzi, the health minister appointed to oversee NHS reform, he says many smokers would be helped to break the habit if they had to make a decision whether to “opt in”.
The permit might cost as little as £10, but acquiring it could be made difficult if the forms were sufficiently complex, Le Grand said last night.
His paper says: “Suppose every individual who wanted to buy tobacco had to purchase a permit. And suppose further they had to do this every year. To get a permit would involve filling out a form and supplying a photograph, as well as paying the fee. Permits would only be issued to those over 18 and evidence of age would have to be provided. The money raised would go to the NHS.”
I’m sure that acquiring the permit would slowly become more and more difficult. Just think, the day comes that you apply for the permit and your voice is a bit hoarse from having a cold, or from cheering on your favorite “football” team, and they interpret the voice as an indication that you’re unhealthy and deny your permit.
In fact, it seems like this is one more step in the goal of eventually making smoking downright illegal. If they weren’t making enormous taxes off the sale of cigarettes, they’d already have done it. Of course, you may point out that if they make cigarettes illegal, only the criminals will have cigarettes. And I’d point out that you’re right, as high cigarette taxes have already created a black market that will only expand with a law like this:
The paper, written by Le Grand and Divya Srivastava, an LSE researcher, acknowledges: “Administratively it would require addressing the problem of the existing black markets and smuggling in tobacco; but this should probably be done anyway.”
Hell, if the government can’t stop bacon-wrapped hot dogs, how are they going to stop addictive drugs?
Hat Tip: Radley Balko