Nannystaters are endlessly creative in figuring out ways to intervene in other people's lives–for their own good, of course. Now comes a wonderful proposal from Health England in which people wanting to buy tobacco products would first have to be licensed. As the Guardian reports:
The idea is the brainchild of the board's chairman, Julian Le Grand, who is a professor at the London School of Economics and was Tony Blair's senior health adviser. In a paper being studied by Lord Darzi, the health minister appointed to oversee NHS reform, he says many smokers would be helped to break the habit if they had to make a decision whether to "opt in".
The permit might cost as little as £10, but acquiring it could be made difficult if the forms were sufficiently complex, Le Grand said last night.
His paper says: "Suppose every individual who wanted to buy tobacco had to purchase a permit. And suppose further they had to do this every year. To get a permit would involve filling out a form and supplying a photograph, as well as paying the fee. Permits would only be issued to those over 18 and evidence of age would have to be provided. The money raised would go to the NHS."
Le Grand said the proposal was an example of "libertarian paternalism". The government would leave people free to make their own decisions but it would "nudge them" in the right direction.
Libertarian paternalism, puhleeze! Coming soon: A license to enter a McDonalds.
Hat tip to H. Clay