Monday, February 18, 2008

Licence To Smoke

As reported by the BBC on Friday, there has been a proposal that in order to purchase tobacco, people should pay £10 a year for a licence. And the application for the licence should be hideously complicated and annoying as possible (so standard Government issue then) so that people would be discouraged from purchasing tobacco.

Other people have commented on the somewhat totalitarian approach of this (although this should be read just for the line "Julian Le Grand: 1984 is a warning, NOT A FUCKING INSTRUCTION MANUAL, you terrible cunt.") but I think they've all missed a couple of points.

First up, there seems to be nothing in these proposals that would stop me (or anyone else) from popping over to Europe and buying cigarettes over there. Obviously they would only be for my personal consumption, so I could - technically - bring back as many as I want with no need for a licence. Obviously there would be a very lucrative black market in these "imported" cigarettes, probably amongst people who didn't want to appear on yet another Government database, or couldn't provide all the required information in order to get a licence themselves.

Secondly, if someone from outside of the UK were to try to purchase cigarettes here (although Lord knows why as it'd probably be cheaper for them to bring them with them) would they have needed to get a licence before entering the UK? If so, how? And if they don't need a licence but can show a foreign passport instead, then anyone of foreign nationality who lives in the UK would be at a distinct advantage over people who were born & bred here.

Thirdly, why are the Government so keen on persuading people to quit smoking? The income raised on cigarette sales + expenditure reduced by shorter pensions to smokers > cost of NHS care for people with smoking related illnesses. Smokers effectively subsidise the national pension contributions of non-smokers. As it has been predicted for many years that there will be a crisis in pensions, surely the Government would be better served by *encouraging* people to smoke?

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