Up in smoke

February 17, 2008 at 8:54 pm | Posted in British Politics, Idiot Hall of Fame | 2 Comments

Here’s another one from the Pie In The Sky school of social policy: a government health advisory board suggests that smokers should fill out a form and pay the government £10 for the right to smoke:

“You’ve got to get a form, a complex form – the government’s good at complex forms; you have got to get a photograph. It’s a little bit of a problem to actually do it, so you have got to make a conscious decision every year to opt in to being a smoker.” He added: “70% of smokers actually want to stop smoking. So if you just make it that little bit more difficult for them to actually re-start or even to start in the first place, yes I think it will make a big difference.”

For the pro-smoking lobby (a group poorly represented by industry cronies Forest, for it includes not only smokers & ex-smokers but non-smokers who are equally astonished by the current anti-fag hysteria) this is yet another example of Big Brother bureaucrats using legislation to force us all into the same pious, puritanical lifestyles they themselves enjoy endure. But The Bleeding Heart Show abhors clichés, so rather than create a lot of hot air through huffing and puffing (okay, I was lying about the cliché part), we should take a moment to ponder the real life implications of this fantasist’s proposal:

  • This would criminalise cigarette vending machines you still find in pubs, since a machine can’t ascertain whether have the proper paperwork to purchase that stale packet of Benson & Hedges which only comes out if you give the machine a swift smack. No big trauma I guess, but jobs will be lost (somewhere in the world) as a result.
  • I’d presume that if it were to become criminal to sell cigarettes without a permit, it would also be a crime to smoke cigarettes without a permit. To mitigate against the risk of flagrant law-breaking, would the police be required to make routine checks outside pubs, nightclubs, workplaces and homes to make sure that everyone has their permit? If not militantly enforced, this proposal would see criminality rise dramatically.
  • Buying cigarettes from abroad, already a big problem for HM Customs, would inevitably become far more popular, and smokers might just decide to buy all their fags from countries without permit restrictions. Thus depriving the Treasury of money they might’ve earmarked for the NHS. To prevent this, is the government prepared to ban the purchase of all cigarettes from foreign countries. If it is, would that mean searching every car, white van and people carrier that rolls in from Calais?
  • If you pack in smoking halfway through your permit, can you get a partial refund?
  • Wouldn’t it be fairer to have a tiered system in place so that the gravel-voiced 40-fags-a-day brigade pay more for their permits than those who just buy the odd pack of 10 on a night out?
  • Would this then be followed by a licence to drink? Or a licence to buy chocolate? Or fast food? Or bread, sugar, red meat any meat, vegetable oil, cheese, butter or countless other foodstuffs which, in excess, can damage your health?

It’s possible that Professor Julian Le Grand thought about these things before he made this proposal. But I doubt it.



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