In a radical effort to curtail smoking in Iceland, politicians are considering a proposal by health officials to make cigarettes available to smokers by prescription-only. The proposal is part of a 10-year plan to curb tobacco use in the country.
If a former health minister gets her way, smokers intending to buy a pack of cigarettes will have to visit a doctor first to get a prescription for their deadly habit.
Siv Fridleifsdottir has drafted a bill that would require cigarettes, and tobacco related products, to be sold in pharmacies and only to people over the age of 20, reports the BBC. Fridleifdottir, an outspoken opponent of tobacco use, said each year 700 teenagers in Iceland join the ranks of the smoking public, averaging two per day. She projects half of them will die early due to smoking related diseases.
The proposal will classify tobacco and nicotine as addictive drugs under Icelandic law. The Globe and Mail said, the price is expected to drop if the proposal passes, with supporters saying it would be 'unfair to tax those unable or unwilling to quit."
“Tobacco is very addictive and we would recognize them (smokers) as addicts,” said Ms. Fridleifsdottir.
Iceland already boasts one of the lowest smoking rates in the world, with only 15% of the population choosing to light-up, said the Globe and Mail.
Currently Iceland requires that warnings displayed on tobacco products include the content of nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. The country has yet to propose graphic warning labels like the ones that were recently unveiled by the US Food and Drug Administration, which will be required on cigarettes sold in the United States beginning in 2012.
The bill doesn't stop with the availability of cigarettes, which at this time can only be purchased in one retailer in all of Iceland. The proposal would also ban smoking in public places, including in cars, as well as in the presence of children.
Reducing the accessibility of tobacco products is expected to cut the number of smokers by 10% per year.
Iceland's Parliament is scheduled to vote on the proposed legislation after its summer break.