From the Government who brought us the smoking ban, who put thousands of publicans and restarateurs in dire straits, last week came the next bright idea - the "£10 Licence to Smoke".
Chairman of the 'Health England' quango, Professor Julien le Grand - yes, that's a real person's name - proudly stated that if his idea was accepted, smokers would have to complete an annual form and submit this with a photo and £10 fee, to apply for a 'Licence to Smoke'. Without this, they would be unable to buy cigarettes in shops. Professor le Grand suggested that having to apply in this way would put off vast numbers of smokers, helping this lunatic control-freak Government towards their next nanny-state target.
"You've got to get a form, a complex form - the government's good at complex forms; you have got to get a photograph." he said "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."
Clearly Professor le Grand feels that a ten pound fee would succeed where cancer, emphysema, thrombosis, lung and heart disease, Government tax greed and more recently, social pariah status has not.
If this idea of a licence is such a great idea, why haven't Government considered it for alcohol? If young people had to apply and pay for a licence to buy their lager and alcopops; if they had to show this licence to buy drinks over a bar; and - more to the point - if the Police were entitled to confiscate this licence if the bearer were found consuming alcohol in a public place or behaving antisocially under the influence, maybe we wouldn't have out-of-control town centres every Friday and Saturday night up and down the country.