Britain: The land of the free?

The stories that I read coming out of Britain either make me very happy that I don’t live there or very afraid that they may be the forerunner of our future.

They have now proposed that smokers should have to buy a licence to buy tobacco at a cost of 10 pounds. The idea of the licence is to make it more inconvenient to buy tobacco the intent being to encourage more people to quit the habit.

Professor Le Grand, a former adviser to ex-PM Tony Blair, said cash raised by the proposed scheme would go to the NHS.

He said it was the inconvenience of getting a permit – as much as the cost – that would deter people from persisting with the smoking habit.

“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.”

It would seem to me that to make it work they would also have to make it illegal for anyone with a licence to buy tobacco and give or re-sell it to an unlicensed person. More laws, a whole new lot of criminals, more penalties and more really useful work for the police.

The British government might be well advised to heed Ronald Reagan’s words:

“Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves”.

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