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.