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July 7th, 2008:

Licensing Smokers A Healthy Option

The Courier Mail – July 7, 2008 – Professor Simon Chapman

You need a licence to drive. A licence to buy a gun. You can’t legally go fishing without a licence, or own a dog. But smoking?

Provided you are over 18 you can buy as many cigarettes as you like – no questions asked. Why not license smokers?

After all, doctors issue tens of thousands of temporary licences every day in the form of prescriptions to allow us to access drugs that can save lives and improve health.

Critics scoff at the idea, arguing that there would be too many difficulties in policing it, or that an underground market for cigarettes would develop.

Given that obtaining a licence for other activities is so straightforward, these arguments hold little weight.

Introducing a smoker-licensing scheme could be readily managed by allowing all current adult smokers over the age of 18 to acquire a permit. To be eligible, smokers would need to have their doctor affirm that they are smokers and then apply for a photo ID swipecard.

Any new smokers wanting a licence after the scheme’s starting date would be required to take a test, proving they fully understood the many health risks of smoking.

ID cards could be swiped at stores to limit the number of cigarette packs that could be bought at a time. Two packs a day maximum, say. This would help to minimise a blackmarket of cigarettes being sold on to unlicensed or under-age smokers.

And, just as for a driving licence, smokers would need to renew their commitment to smoking every five years. Or, if a smoker successfully quit they could permanently surrender their licence and be offered a full refund of their licensing fee, another incentive to quit. Tourists could show their passports and return tickets and be allowed to buy.

Most smokers want to quit. Nearly all regret starting. As part of the licensing scheme, smokers could have the option to sign on to receive Quit smoking information or be regularly contacted by Quit counsellors. This support would be directly funded by the licensing scheme and quash concerns that it is nothing more than another cash cow for the government.

Smoker licensing could first be trialled in an interested remote or small community. Evaluating and altering the scheme as necessary before rolling it out nationally just makes good sense. Critics could rest easy knowing a failed trial will make little difference to most smokers.

Smoking kills some 15,000 Australians every year, half in middle age. Compare this with the annual road toll of 1600 deaths.

We license drivers because we recognise that safe driving requires skills and experience. Licensing smokers is a way of ensuring that all smokers have a competent level of knowledge about the wide range of potentially fatal health effects. Licensing smokers is just one more way of reducing the tremendous health and social burden of tobacco use.

Even tobacco companies should love the idea because no one could sue, saying they didn’t know the risks they were taking: they would have passed the test.

Ex-Smokers – One Year After The Ban

The Mirror UK – July 7, 2008 – Kate Jackson

It’s a year since the smoking ban came in.

And since England’s pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs became smoke-free zones it’s reckoned 234,000 have given up completely with the help of the NHS.

For the average 20-a-day smoker that means a very healthy saving of £1,800 since July 1, 2007.

But what does an ex-smoker do with their extra dosh? Here, three proud quitters tell us how they spent their fag money.


June Whitehouse, 45, a food sales rep from Stafford, is splashing out on a trip of a lifetime to New Zealand to see her cousin, Susan.

I’d been smoking since I was 15 and had tried to quit on several occasions. So when I found Allen Carr’s Easyway To Stop Smoking on the internet, I was intrigued. I went to the seminar thinking, ‘How can this work?’ But it did.

I used to smoke between 20 and 25 cigarettes a day, so I must have spent £40 a week. If you add up all the thousands of duty-free ciggies I brought back from holidays, I would have spent much more.

My cousin Susan, pictured above with me, emigrated to New Zealand last November and I’m dying to go and see her.

She lives in Auckland with her husband Anthony, son Ryan and daughter Lorna, who is also my goddaughter.

Susan and I are very close – more like sisters than cousins. I’ve bought tickets for myself and my husband Ade – plus my aunt and uncle – to go on a trip to Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand for three weeks.

I think the flights cost about £2,000, so that’s where my smoking money has gone. Funnily enough, I used to think I was afraid of flying. But since I’ve stopped smoking, I’ve realised that maybe it was more of a fear of going without a cigarette for the journey.


Dawn Tuckwell, 25, who works in communications in London, bought a Madonna-style exercise machine.

I quit the week before the ban started. If I could survive the week while people were still smoking in pubs and restaurants, then I could definitely do it during the ban.

I was on 15 Marlboro Lights a day for six years. I tried – and failed – to stop five times.

I felt unhealthy and didn’t want to be any more. I used to be so fit before I started smoking. I was disgusted with myself.

I was also buying a flat with a friend who has asthma so knew I couldn’t smoke in the new place.

So, without patches or replacements, I stopped.

I told everyone, which helped. And when people had fag breaks at work, I’d make a cup of tea instead.

Loose change that would have gone on cigarettes, I put in an enormous pink piggy bank instead. I made a point of putting in £1 and £2 coins, so I knew there’d be a lot in there.

Last month, I broke it open and was amazed that there was £800 – which went straight on my Power Plates exercise machine.

I’d wanted one for years and because I have back pain, the vibrating machine is one of the only things which eases it.

Now I’m toned, I’ve lost four inches off my hips and I feel so much healthier.


Expectant mum Nadine Smith, 27, from Manchester, has used the spare cash to buy everything she needs for her first baby, due in six weeks.

My fiance and I didn’t have a single thing for the baby before I quit smoking. We had to start right from scratch, buying everything from the pram, the cot, clothes, nappies…

I reckon I’ve put away around £900 from what would have been my smoking money so far and it’s all gone towards baby stuff, without us needing to use any other money. And everything else I save will go on the baby!

I started smoking when I was 13, mainly because of peer pressure and by the time my 14th birthday came around, I was a regular smoker. But I wish now I’d never picked up that first fag.

When it came to giving up, I went to the Manchester Stop Smoking clinic where I saw my support worker, Christine, once a fortnight and she called me up every couple of days to see how I was coping. I also used the nicotine patches, but I wouldn’t have been able to give up smoking without the ban. Now, I can go out to a pub or restaurant and there’s nothing to remind me of smoking.

I feel so much healthier and we’re both just looking forward to our baby. The money I’ve saved has gone to the best possible present – our baby.

Smoking ban in numbers

-2bn Fewer ciggies smoked in England and Wales since the ban

-175m Fewer pints drunk in England and Wales post-ban

-4: Number of pubs forced to close every day, with many blaming the ban

-22% of population who still smoke, down from 24 per cent


10 a day -£912.50

20 a day -£1,825

30 a day- £2,737.50

40 a day -£3,650