Medical journal proposes a licence for smokers

IF PLAIN packaging, soaring tobacco prices and nasty photographs didn't provide enough of an incentive to give up smoking, perhaps lining up for a licence to light up will.

Just days after Australian smokers learned their cigarettes would soon cost up to $5 more under Kevin Rudd's latest tobacco tax, an article in the Australian Medical Journal has fuelled a new debate over the merits of issuing adults with "smoking smart cards".

Health professor Roger Magnusson and cancer expert David Currow question whether a mandatory licensing system would curb child smoking rates and provide vital data about addiction and quitting methods.

Under the proposed system, producing the licence would be a pre-condition to all cigarette purchases, the article reads.

Retailers would be required to reconcile all stock purchases from wholesalers against a digital record of sales to licensed smokers.

The article notes that while the sale of tobacco to children is illegal in Australia, a National Drug Survey found that 2.5% of the country's teenagers were daily smokers.

In a 2011 survey of Australian high schools, more than 50% of students believed it was "easy" or "very easy" to purchase cigarettes underage.

The article stated that while some may be confronted by the "shock of the new" and fear a Big Brother-like system is encroaching on their privacy, "it is difficult to identify anything about a smokers licence that is particularly offensive or demeaning".


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