After a few months of deep academic thinking (stop sniggering at the back), he released a paper on the 21st of the month, but has now perfected it after contributions from fellow
You can read the whole thing here [pdf], and I heartily recommend you do so as it's a work of majestic delusion.
Beginning by comparing 'unique' tobacco with any number of other products which fit his pre-conceived idea, he finally settles on equating it with drugs requiring a "temporary licence" (a prescription, to you and me).
I will now describe an alternative form of access regulation – the smoker’s licenseDrum roll, maestro, please.
Smart card technology All licensed smokers would be required to have a smart swipecard. This would be required to transact any purchase from a licensed tobacco retailer. No stock could be sold that was not linked via the in-store scanner to a tobacco user’s license.Hmmm. That's very familiar.
It's quite a crystal ball Imperial Tobacco have there.
Penalties for unreconciled sales would be severe, with threat of loss of retail licenseSo, on top of the scanning equipment retailers would be forced to install, there would also be the threat of 'severe' fines. Playing with other peoples' businesses again, plus ça change. Chapman again arrogantly assumes that the entire world must bow down to his personal bug bear, regardless of cost. Like a child who doesn't understand why his Mum can't buy that Xbox right now, money is no object ... as long as it's someone else's.
Application for a license could be made on-line or at authorized tobacconists, with supported data-linkable, proof-of-age cross-referencing (passport, driver’s license, birth certificate) required to validate identity. The licensing authority would be able to validate these identities via data linkage.Not content with imposing huge burdens on businesses, Chapman also sees no issue with a massively expensive database and hardware - paid out of taxation, natch - to administer the scheme. Of course, this will require lots of operatives on large salaries too.
Pre-commitment to a maximum daily consumption The smartcard license would be encoded with a maximum purchase limit selected by the licensee at the time license application. There could be three grades of license: 1-10 cigarettes per day (max.70 per week), 11-20 (max. 140 per week), and 21-50 (max. 350 per week).There you were, one minute, allowed to buy a legal product on your own terms. Next, it is perfectly acceptable for government to dictate to you. Only the most extreme of those inconvenient libertarians would possibly object, eh?
Maximum daily limit There would be an upper limit of 50 cigarettes per dayBecause, you see, Chapman has decided that you must only buy as many as he decrees.
Cost of license fee The license fee would neither be trivial nor astronomical. It would be set at a sufficient level to give smokers some pause in deciding whether to obtain or renew their license. Market research could be used to determine the appropriate level. For the sake of illustration, assume that the lowest level (up to 10 cigarettes per day) would be $100 a year (just 27c a day) and the highest $200 (54c a day). This could be paid in quarterly installments or in full.And, as we have seen with the Scottish 40p minimum alcohol price - which is now 50p - this would not be ramped up from the moment it was set. Oh no, not in Chapman's world of unicorns and moons made of cheese.
He's only warming up though, because this is when it really goes doolally.
Newly licensed smokers would have to pass a knowledge of risk test ... Applicants would be given on-line educational material of direct relevance to the test, and a large, growing question bank would be developed based on this material, with random on-screen questions being given to each applicant.Ooh, another new government department. I'm sure the Treasury will be loving this more and more.
Then onto the cast-iron belief, in Chapman's mind, that humans only associate with people of their own age.
Gradual increase in the minimum age for purchase [...] from a given year, the legal age for smoking would be raised each year by one year. As very few smokers commence experimenting with smoking after 23 years, the expectation is that the incremental, progressive rise in the legal smoking commencement age would effectively see very few people take up smoking when the minimum legal age reached around 23 years.For someone who continually bangs on about kids (who are under the legal age, remember) getting hold of tobacco, this is something the clown must surely only have thought up while under the influence of some pretty strong drugs.
He is the architect of a policy - plain packaging - which has been brought in partly because kids still get hold of tobacco despite it being illegal for them to do so. Yet here he is somehow simultaneously believing that a raise in the age restriction would be impenetrable. I do wish he'd make his mind up.
Of course, those who aren't brainwashed in the tobacco control bubble will quickly recognise many flaws to his Baldrick-like plan. He has set forth a future strategy which could have been written by counterfeiters and smugglers, and they've not had to expend a moment of their time or energy concocting it. It comes fully paid for by the taxes of others and ready made to send their profits skywards. Not only that, but even everyday man or woman in the street will see profit opportunities in owning one of these licences. It's a slow drip steady income scheme just waiting to be exploited.
Non-smokers who currently indulge in the odd benefit cheat by massaging their income will quickly see the potential of owning one of these licences to buy fags for others at a premium, just as they currently bring baccy back from their hols to give to friends for a few bob more than they bought it. This is what happens when the public views laws as unfair or unduly harsh, and that's exactly how smoker licence dottiness would be received.
For Chapman, though, there is no risk from illicit supply at all. Because he's soft in the head. After arguing that poor smokers not being able to afford the licences is a good thing as they would have to quit, he comes out with this hilarious contradictory nonsense.
Would a licensing scheme increase illicit trade? Obtaining a license would not be onerous nor very expensive (relative to the cost of smoking itself), so there would be few reasons why most current smokers would not obtain one.Because everyone has $100 to $200 just lying around in their account at any one time, especially the less well off.
A license would enable easy access to tobacco purchasing, whereas those without a license would need to take trouble to find illicit sources of supply."Trouble to find illicit sources of supply"? With Chapman's plan, it would be difficult to avoid them. They would be in your face like a motherfucker!
For someone of his age group, how can he forget when gambling was banned and there was a friendly neighbourhood bookie on every street corner? Senile dementia, perhaps?
Some argue that the illicit drug trade flourishes in spite of such drugs needing to be sourced illegally from criminals. The implication here is that many smokers are similarly willing to transact with criminals. However, this analogy is badly flawed because while illicit drugs can only be sourced illegally, tobacco would still be readily obtainable openly and legally.Apart from those who can't afford the licence, are too young to get one, or haven't been able to pass his test, of course. Not to mention areas where legitimate sources might be non-existent after retailers weigh up the massive costs, coupled with punitive penalties, and simply decide not to sell tobacco.
The main explanations for high availability demand for illicit tobacco are the cheaper price at which illicit tobacco sells, the ease of cross border traffic in some nations, and the general level of corruption in which much illicit trade can flourish. None of these factors would in any way be influenced by a user licensing system.Considering the cost of the licence, just High Street priced tobacco would be cheaper from a reseller than buying your own licence. Borders wouldn't be an issue with sympathetic (perhaps even non-smoking) licence holders in abundance on every street to earn a bit of pin money, and there isn't any industry more corrupt to allow illicit trade to flourish than the tobacco controllers who created it in the first place.
A licensing system would rapidly take control of tobacco sales away from government and into the hands of anyone who fancied dabbling in reselling. It would be contraband by government incentive.
To enforce it, then, a third new taxpayer-funded department would be required for Chapman's barking plan to succeed. It'll have to be serious cash too, seeing as the world and his wife will be in the tobacco business.
That anyone could dream up something so disastrously stupid is funny, but that his colleagues didn't beat him over the head with a heavy glass-encrusted club for being so idiotic - instead of encouraging the geriatric prick - is simply hilarious. Sadly, I don't think even dull-minded politicians are stupid enough to go for it, and that's saying something.
If we really must have plain packaging - which seems likely judging by the disgusting corruption going on - I pray to every God available that smoker licences be proposed here next. It could usher in some of the most delightful times of our lives as the public finally twigs - while respect for the law crumbles and violent criminal gangs receive a massive boost to their coffers - that tobacco control is comprehensively, irretrievably, way-out-there-with-the-fairies, pathologically, dangerously crackers.
Just imagine, also, the day when we see Arnott and Sandford being forced by big pharma to promote this utter garbage with a straight face. It could be the stuff of legend.