Australian proposal would require license to smoke

Mandatory license to buy cigarettes, daily limit on amount one can purchase

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AUSTRALIA - A public health expert from the University of Sydney in Australia believes he has the answer to curb smoking habits. Simon Chapman proposes governments should issue smoking licenses.

The proposal appeared in this week's PLOS Medicine. Under the proposal, users would have to apply and pay for a mandatory license to buy cigarettes. The license would resemble a type of smartcard and would have to be shown when purchasing cigarettes. Dr. Chapman believes this will discourage teenagers from picking up the habit.

However, the proposal does come with a bit of controversy. The smartcard would allow governments to limit the amount of cigarettes a person can buy. Dr. Chapman suggests the limit be 50 per day averaged over two weeks to accommodate heavy smokers. The license would be reissued every year, and smokers will set daily limits for the number of cigarettes they buy. Smokers would also be tested on their knowledge of the dangers of smoking.

Advocates for the smoker's license say it would help encourage smokers to quit. Critics disagree, and feel it would further alienate smokers and take pressure off the real culprits of the tobacco industry.

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