Smoker's licence 'step too far': Cancer Council

Simon Chapman, professor in public health at the University of Sydney, today described his plan to use smart card technology to restrict smokers as “probably the most important piece I have ever published”.

In a PLOS Medicine article Professor Chapman said creative thinking was required to tackle the global smoking epidemic. His proposed 'swipecard' would be designed to limit access to tobacco products and also to encourage smokers to quit.

He argued that tobacco sale is subject to trivial controls compared with other dangerous products that threaten both public and personal safety, and compared the licence to prescriptions, which he described as “temporary licensing to use restricted substances”.

Suggested elements of the proposed smoker’s licence include: an annual cost for the licence (depending on the number of cigarettes smoked), which would be reissued every year; smokers setting daily limits, with an upper limit of 50 per day