An initiative in Australia is proposing that Australian smokers should be required to carry a smart card license to purchase cigarettes.
According to a report from The Age, the requirement of a smart card license would help health authorities to track consumer behavior and better target “quit” messages to proper members of the public. At present, the idea is circulating in the academic community following an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
University of Sydney Law School Professor Roger Magnusson and chief executive of the Cancer Institute NSW Professor David Currow suggest in the article that a license scheme could make it harder for children and adolescents to buy cigarettes. The two go on to state that adult smokers could be forced to purchase the smart card license, which would contain age and identity-verifying information, to buy cigarettes.
On the retailer side, sellers would be required to log all stock purchased from wholesalers against a digital record of retail sales to smart card-licensed smokers. While retailer participation would likely require some incentive, the creation of a smoker database along with their cigarette purchases, could certainly help to prohibit tobacco sales to children.
This is not the first time that such a proposal was introduced. In fact, Professor Simon Chapman introduced a similar idea last year wherein smokers submit to a pre-license test on the risks of smoking, the results of which would limit the number cigarettes they could buy.
Magnasson and Currow echo their support of a smart card license by stating that even the cards without testing features could still enable health agencies to establish patterns and variations in smoker behavior. These detailed smoker patterns could then be used to develop more effective, individualized communications to ultimately help smokers to kick their much-maligned habit.