A health expert says smokers should be licenced and forced to use swipe cards to buy cigarettes in a bid to stamp out the deadly habit.
Anti-smoking campaigner Professor Simon Chapman, from the University of Sydney, suggests smokers register and pay for an annual mandatory licence, with a fortnightly cigarette limit.
The unusual scheme, revealed in PLOS Medicine Journal, would limit the number of cigarettes smokers could buy everyday over a two-week period.
Licensees would be forced to show the smart card for every cigarette purchase, and renew their licence each year under the radical proposal.
Under Professor Chapman’s proposal, new smokers would also need to pass a compulsory health knowledge test and nominate how many cigarettes they can buy each day.
He suggests suggests purchases are limited to 50 cigarettes a day for heavy smokers, that's 350 a week, and varying costs for licences depending on an individual's chosen daily quota.
The more cigarettes per day, the more expensive the licence, he says.Financial incentives will also be offered to encourage smokers to give up their licences.Dr Chapman argues his theory could help smokers butt out and discourage others from taking up the habit. "Tobacco sale is subject to trivial controls compared with other dangerous products that threaten both public and personal safety," he said. "The prolonged use of tobacco causes the death of about half its users, with a billion people this century predicted to die from tobacco caused disease."But Dr Chapman's proposal has been met with a lukewarm response.
Quit Victoria executive says anti-smoking campaigners support the licence push, but first want a ban on smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas. She said the group also wants to see a limit on the number of venues licensed to sell cigarettes."It is right now a radical idea, but it could be a possibility for the future,” she told Seven News. "There are things that we know will work that aren’t currently in place at the moment, including further bans on outdoor drinking and dining areas, and restricting the number of outlets that sell cigarettes. "Currently, you or I could ring up a tobacco company and sell cigarettes out of our home, or the back of our car, and no one would stop us. Is that appropriate for a product that kills one out of two users?"