Sunday, February 24, 2008

LICENCE TO SMOKE


James Bond has a licence to kill and soon Britain’s smokers will need a licence to smoke. Under new government proposals, smokers will soon have to fork out £10 for a special licence to give them the privilege of being able to light up. In addition, they will have to complete a very complicated application form to get the licence, designed to discourage them from smoking. The man behind the controversial idea is Professor Julian Le Grand, chairman of ministerial advisory board, Health England. Apparently the idea is that the money raised from the licences will go to the National Health Service. Critics have slammed the scheme as, “the nanny state gone mad”. Smokers’ rights group Forest has condemned it as outrageous. However the professor argues that whilst people would still be free to make their own decisions, the new scheme would “nudge them” in the right direction, presumably to give up smoking altogether.

I personally don’t think the new scheme will work. Treating smokers like social lepers is the wrong approach. I’m a non-smoker myself but grew up in a household where members of my family smoked. I also have friends who smoke. In a so-called free country, you can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, even if it is for their own good in the long term. The same rule applies to smoking too. If people want to smoke they will smoke and it is their right to do so if that’s what they choose. There is nothing the government or anybody else can do about it. If this controversial scheme goes ahead, then where will it end? Is the government going to licence alcohol and junk food as well? I’m sure many smokers will be up in arms if this new scheme goes ahead and quite rightly so. Why should they be made to pay £10 in an effort to put money back into a National Health Service that has flittered away thousands of pounds? I agree it is a good idea to encourage people to be healthy and try to give up smoking but I personally don’t think this is the right way to go about it. Back to the drawing board Professor Le Grand.

7 comments:

Kyle & Svet Keeton said...

Hi, Naomi!

Thank you for great article! I am absolutely agree with you! Just last night we discussed with Kyle the same question that is it good or bad but that is choice of grown people and government must not treat them like kids in children garden!

It's so funny when the same thoughts comes to people at the same time ;).

Best wishes,
Svet and Kyle

Sank said...

We're dealing with similar issues here in the States. I'm not a smoker, and I certainly appreciate people not smoking in enclosed public spaces, what people do in their own homes or in a park or what have you, it's really none of my business, nor should it be the governments business. Smoking laws, seatbelt laws, helmet laws, trans-fat laws, on and on, the "do-gooders" are engaged in a concentrated effort to tell me what's right for me!
The become the tyranny of the nanny state.

Naomi said...

Yes it is funny how people have the same thoughts on things Svet and Kyle. Glad you enjoyed the post. The government is acting so childish in this case.

That's the way most people feel here Sank. As long as people pay their taxes, they should be able to do as they please and that includes smoking too. Behaving like a nanny state won't help anyone.

Alastair said...

As an unrepentant smoker (i have plenty of other things to repent about) I agree! I have already seen the sad decline in village pubs since the total smoking ban came in - and having just come back from France I am glad to say that the smoking ban where I was is being disregarded with the usual attitude the French have to something they think will damage their communities. In France, just as in England, many license holders realise that their income is founded on the business of those who don't smoke at home, or in restaurants, or very many places at all, apart from the few places where historically smoking has been part of the 'social contract'. I am all for giving people the choice of having smoke free venues to go to, and think that keeping places such as restaurants smoke free is entirely right, but imposing anything as a blanket ban smacks of an almost oppressive interference. I think that if pubs, clubs etc were truly given the choice then a vast number would have gone smoke free, whilst those which weren't would have benefitted from cornering the niche market!

Imposing something from above just makes people resentful and (like me) more determined to carry on where the opportunity arises - perhaps even breaking the law when the occasion arises (such as in France!) If the smoking ban had been enforced where I was staying then both bars i visited would have been closed, I saw only two non smokers all week! And these bars aren't the kind of place where people drop in for a quiet drink, they are the hubs of communities.

I'll stop now, I'm ranting! Nice to be back, keep up the good work :-)

PD Warrior said...

I don't mind so much when the government gets involved with smoking in public places, but I have to agree with Sank - what people do in their own homes is their own business.

Myself, I have one cigar a year in honor of my dad. If I had to get a license for that, I would have an absolute fit.

Anonymous said...

AGREED!!

Naomi said...

Ha ha your comment made me smile Alastair. However I agree with you entirely. A lot of pubs in this country have lost business because of the smoking ban. I think the trick should have been to strike a happy medium and have some smoking establishments and some non-smoking to give people a choice, rather than just clamping down. Nice to see you back Alastair. Hope you and your family enjoyed your French break.

Yes it is their own business PD Warrior. I'm sure a lot of other people will feel exactly the same way if they have to get a licence. Nice to see you again.

Thanks for the comment Annonymous.