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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine and Health

You said NO to a license to smoke

Thanks to all our readers who voted in last week’s PLOS Medicine poll asking whether you thought a smoker’s license was a good idea. At the time of writing, we have received 372 votes, 71% of which said NO.

The poll sprang from last week’s PLOS Medicine Debate, where Simon Chapman and Jeff Collin presented opposing arguments for a “smart card” style smoker’s license designed to limit access to tobacco and encourage cessation.

As Professor Chapman has pointed out, many other now widely accepted proposals – like tobacco advertising bans and smoke-free pubs and restaurants – were once ridiculed.

And if the page views are any indication (5564 readers accessed his smoker’s license proposal in its first 5 days of publication), the idea has struck a chord.

Comments on the poll post and tweets about the two articles (which you can see in real time on the article pages) suggest that those in favour thought it was a creative, provocative, and potentially useful tool for tobacco control, while those opposed felt the license would be impractical and reeked of a patronizing “nanny state.”

Professor Chapman wrote on his twitter feed that this is probably “the most important piece I have ever published.”

The PLOS Medicine articles were covered widely in the international press by BBC News, CBS News, Wired, Global News in Canada,  and the International Business Times, among others.

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