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back to article Sydney Uni boffin wants database to track smokers

Open access journal PLOS Medicine has staged a debate on the topic of licenses for smokers. The advocate of the case for a licence, Simon Chapman, is Professor, Director of Research and Associate Dean of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, argues that prescriptions are a temporary licence to possess and use …

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Anonymous Coward

Hey you, citizen! You really suck.

Oh this would work.

Not.

They wouldn't get too many genuine email addresses, that's for sure.

Just tax them more and more.

Oh, and make them pay for treatment of smoking related illnesses.

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Re: Hey you, citizen! You really suck.

" ... make them pay for treatment of smoking related illnesses."

Some years ago, the back-office people in the UK civil service did some calculations involving the cost of healthcare for smoking related illnesses and also considered the 'benefit' to the state of not having to pay state pension to those who died early from smoking related illnesses. (I'm not sure if they also considered similar benefits to private/corporate pension providers.) According to newspaper reports, this study was shoved down the back of a filing cabinet because the government thought it was an embarrassing subject to be studying.

Their conclusion was that smokers dying early was of overall financial benefit to the state. So, if you're concerned about money, you should call for smokers to be paid to smoke. Is it the money that concerns you?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hey you, citizen! You really suck.

What would have happened to Roy Castle?

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Joke

Re: Hey you, citizen! You really suck.

Roy would have been ok if he hadn't gone to Skaro.

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Go

As Sir Humphrey Applebee said in a close-enough context...

"Think of all those selfless smokers laying down their lives for their fellow countryman."

Seriously, as long as people are doing it out of the way of those who choose not, it is their bodies to do with as they like. If they make an informed decision to have a slightly shorter life in return for something they enjoy, who am I or the government who claims to represent me to tell them no. Just as long as they take it on the chin without whining when the fun is over and it is time to pay the price!

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Meh

Good luck with that...

I smoke around a carton (200) of cigarettes a month. I realize it's not for the good of me, but I wish my government (Ontario CAN) would fuck off and let me be. In about 1998 a pack of "premium" Canadian smokes was about $3 CAN, now it's north of $10. Fortunately I live 15 minutes drive from an Indian reserve where I can pick up my tax free smokes and booze on a regular basis ( about $10 for 200 smokes and $20 for 60oz whisky).

Everyone I know living within 100km of the reserves does this. If the western "we care about out citizens" 'govments really care, they should ban smokes alcohol, driving, +dogs etc, until I need a licence to make coffee in the morning (Ok not coffee please). I think the problem here in Canada is the provinces are as hooked on the tax revenue as much as I'm hooked on the product.

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Re: Good luck with that...

..cont. unless this results in substantially higher revenue, without pissing off the smokers and the "FU government! get out of my life!" type voters, it's doomed. Not everyone hates us smokers.

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Re: Good luck with that...

"Not everyone hates us smokers."

Only non-smokers?

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Pint

And the obvious question for the Nanny state is?

You have to do the same thing for any alcohol at the same time.... And the public gets to view the records of all pollie's drinking habits.....

Would that kill the proposal?

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Re: And the obvious question for the Nanny state is?

"You have to do the same thing for any alcohol at the same time.... And the public gets to view the records of all pollie's drinking habits.....

Would that kill the proposal?"

No.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BobHawkeYardofale.jpg

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Thumb Down

Not thought through.

"Chapman’s proposed licence would see smokers issued a smartcard, without which it would be impossible to buy cigarettes"

Might I point out to my honoured colleague that a large portion of Australia's income is from oversea tourism? How are tourist smokers supposed to get their hit? Or will there be "licence or passport" clause? Because I can tell that if I'm travelling overseas I am not likely to want to show my passport to the clerk at the local 7-11 (it annoys me that I have to do so at hotels), so I don't see why tourists to Oz would be so inclined.

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Re: Not thought through.

Just for the record: I am not a smoker and neither is my wife.

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This is just ridiculous. Or the motives are a bit more sinister.

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Silver badge

Not sinister, just Australia's nanny state mentallity.

They want to tax fat because advertising isn't working and licence smokers because the tax isn't working.

Before long all Australians will be forced into padded rooms and fed nothing but tofu to protect them from themselves

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Anonymous Coward

Inevitable

When a government assumes responsibility for the essential health of its citizens (which, in my view, is a good thing), it soon realises that the resulting impact on the budget is quite substantial.

The inevitable result is that it will try to reduce expenditure. One way of doing that is to reduce services, but that pisses off everyone, and costs votes. Another is to reduce demand, by trying to make the population healthier. Theoretically that pisses off fewer people, and costs fewer votes.

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Stop

Doesn't work that way.

The "healthier"[1] the population, the longer they live. And there's pretty much universal research which shows that the cost of providing healthcare rises exponentially as you start going over 40. Or in other words 80% of your heath spending will be on the 20% of the oldest of your population.

The longer people live, the more chance they have to develop (expensive) cancers that they would have died not knowing anything about, if they died younger.

"Logans Run" ... if you can get over the 70s-ness of it all made a serious point.

[1]Depending how you define healthy.

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Re: Inevitable

So you say that the state should look after the health of it's citizens. But then you say that naturally it will try and reduce expenditure by forcing people to live healthier lives. Don't you realise that forcing people to lead boring but healthly lives is not what everyone wants and actually does piss of a lot of people. What you are advocating is state control of every little bit of everyone's personal life. Even more controlling than 1984 where the plebs could do as they wished in terms of taking pleasure. We might as well live in North Korea if that's what you want.

Are you going to ban hang gliding; eating cream cakes; having a celebration with alcohol; etc.etc.etc.

About the only thing not currently being planned for control is sex, but that's probably 'cause it's last on the list. I mean you wouldn't want people to get STDs so all sex should be banned. Only government mandated sex will be allowed by those licensed as disease free.

Am I being a bit ad absurdum? Possibly, but either you go all the way and stop all unhealthy living or allow everyone to have a free choice. I prefer the later, and if that imposes a real and quantifiable cost on society (not some lefty's view that the planet is being harmed), then I'll happily pay a pigovian tax.

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Nanny State - Again

I wonder if people like this Professor realise how much potential damage they are doing to socialised medicine.

At the moment, I support it, free at the point of delivery and delivered regardless of ability to pay. The day it becomes, as this proposes, a reason for the state to control behaviour to save costs and protect us from ourselves, I will be in the queue to vote for the first politician who wants to abolish it.

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Anonymous Coward

Egghead full of yolk

"That argument, he says “rests on poor public understanding of the magnitude of the risks of smoking relative to other cumulative everyday risks to health.”"

No, it doesn't. This guy is instead trying to make his pet subject oh-so-speshul as to be deserving exceptions and things.

Except it doesn't work that way. We've seen that recently again with internet filters against child porn predictably creeping up to also "protect copyright", and soonish whatnot else.

It ought to be obvious: Bring in some control measure requiring people to register and queue up for a good old government nagging-at, and pretty soon you're getting nagged at for just this one more thing, and then that one more thing, and then....

I recall reading yesterday that the WWII identity card scheme in Blighty started out with 3 functions, and when it was finally retired just a few short years later, it had acquired 39.

That sort of thing is called feature creep, or scope creep if you will, and it happened well before our identities got computerised. The onus is on the proposer to somehow show that this cannot happen, for if it can, it will. Trying to pre-emptively reverse the argument doesn't change that. Since he did the latter and not the former, his argument isn't an argument and he should take a hike, TYVM.

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Mushroom

Ther really ought to be a law against assholes who think the most important thing they can do with their life is tell others how to live theirs. Oh wait, i've an idea, maybe we should issue them with a licence ..

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Australia is full of assholes who's whole lives revolves around telling people how to live theirs

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Anonymous Coward

The counter that wasn't

ID cards aren't too difficult to push through really. They're all over the continent, and India is busily rolling them out, fingerprints and all. Russia had and still has "internal passports", and China is no different. It's merely a statement on the incompetence of the governments that fail to do so than on the feasibility.

Do note that we're seeing a benefits ID card scheme, also touted as the bees knees for medical whatnottery. But a short step to add your DNA and things, or your smoking history. If they wanted it, it'd happen in a few government-short years.

So as counters go that one is rather weak. Much more interesting is to look at the Dutch government and their incessant drive to identify and register bloody everything.

Latest shtick is a "weed card" ("wietpas") that requires you to register with your fave "coffeeshop", requiring of course birth certificates and proofs of residence issued by the municipality. This to shut out furriners being a nuisance while buying weed.

The result? Instead of with 10% from the furriners, revenues in the highstreet coffeeshops (free pun!) dropped some two thirds, costing jobs.

And the trade moved back from the nice shops to back alleys again, causing not just nuisance, but crime. Quelle surprise.

Despite this and various mayors having already called for repealing the scheme, the minister and his sidekick pushing it through insist on declaring it a "great success".

I wonder how many genes this supposed boffin shares with that Dutch minister of "justice and security".

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Anonymous Coward

They should add this to Conroy's failed filter plan

Because a better filter could save some fag-fanatics from the cancer.

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Bronze badge

Yoo-hoo! Smugglers over heeeeee-re!

Please Sir, may I have some unintended consequences?

If we're very lucky the result will be like a mash-up of "Mad Max" and "The Godfather" - high body count but at least entertaining from a safe distance.

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Re: Yoo-hoo! Smugglers over heeeeee-re!

And then a whole lot more oppressive laws to control the smuggling and robbery of cigarettes and the resultant gang warfare.

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Flame

Root of all Evil

Simon Chapman is the ultimate nannying fussbucket. He wants everyone to have a boring life.

And after tobacco is regulated by license, they will put alcohol on the list. No matter what Deborah Arnott of ASH might say that there is no slippery slope of imposing the controls on tobacco onto alcohol, there is and alcohol will be next on the list. And BRAKE will join in the "fun" and ensure that a man with a red flag strolls in front of every car. There is no end to what nannying fussbuckets want to ban.

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Facepalm

Re: Root of all Evil

"He wants everyone to have a boring life."

He wants to make buying tobacco products more difficult. You seem to be suggesting that smoking (and nothing else) makes life exciting. Or is it merely buying tobacco products that makes life exciting?

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Anonymous Coward

You are all going to die.

Is it better to have a long, straight-edge life, or a shorter life with more of the little things that make it more enjoyable? Bearing in mind that being unhappy/stressed also has negative health effects?

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Anonymous Coward

Tax them, tattoo them, fit smoke alarms, brand them, add electronic tags....

Smokers stink.

Let the public know where they are.

We need an app for that.

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Mushroom

Re: Tax them, tattoo them, fit smoke alarms, brand them, add electronic tags....

Better yet brand, tattoo, tax and tag the morons who insist that anyone not like them is wrong.

A great many people stink, some of them it's because of their work and some are just too lazy to wash.

Anonymous Cowards stink too, mostly because they are cowards and smell of their fear is nauseating.

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Thumb Up

Re: Tax them, tattoo them, fit smoke alarms, brand them, add electronic tags....

Lovely turn of phrase ... Pity I can only upvote once ..

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Lord...

... Imagine if they introduced this in the UK. A licence to carry a limited amount of tobacco (ciggies or loose). That would severely clamp down on the Tobacco run over to the continent.

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Sir

Can we have a Deloras Umbridge icon please?

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"Oz boffin"

Blimey.

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Happy

"Oz boffin"

Is he called Bruce?

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Happy

Take the easy way out

Is it easier to quit the habit, or cure the cancer ??? I'm with Bruce on this.

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Anonymous Coward

Sidestep the smartcard

Witness the rebirth of the cigarette case, leaving the packet at home. They'll never be able to track the gentleman about town!

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah the NAZI cards are just too draconian.

Stick to burning their fingers with lit matches.

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