A Fresh Idea For Reducing Smoking: Force Smokers To Get A Licence

Getty / John Sadovy

There have been creeping bans on smoking in public, tobacco advertising has been outlawed, it’s become increasingly less socially acceptable, cigarette packaging in Australia is stomach churning, and taxation on the product is high and set to increase steadily over the coming years.

Rates of smoking in Australia are now below 20% and among the lowest in the western world, but the rates at which people are kicking the habit are reducing as policy options have become increasingly difficult to come by.

Now health advocates have a new idea: force smokers to have a licence.

Sue Dunlevy reports for News Ltd this morning on the plan from Professors Roger Magnusson from the University of Sydney’s Law School and David Currow of the Cancer Institute NSW, which they say “could eclipse any other single tobacco control measure currently under consideration”.

They envisage retailers having to ask a buyer to produce a licence for every sale, which they argue would drastically reduce younger people’s access to tobacco. Retailers would also reconcile sales of packets against the cards at the end of the day.

A smart-card type approach would also be able to collect data on smokers that helps target them with advice on how to quit, but also protect individual choice by allowing adults to make the choice to smoke if they wanted.

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