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HealthWatch: Professor Urges Mandatory Licenses, Tests For Smokers

(CBS) - A prominent medical journal has ignited a debate over whether smokers should be required to get a license in order to smoke cigarettes.

Professor Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney said a new, creative approach is required to snuff out tobacco and its associated health dangers.

"It's crazy to think we should continue to allow cigarettes, which kill one in two of their users, to be sold just anywhere to anyone," said Chapman.

Under Chapman's proposal, smokers would need to apply for a smart card and pay an annual fee to smoke. The card would be loaded with a preset limit of cigarettes, chosen by the smoker, with a 50-per-day max - The higher the limit, the higher the fee.

"I think if people had licenses they would really consider quitting," said smoker Ruth Mills.

If people quit and surrender the card, they would get the money back.

Chapman's proposal was published Tuesday in the online journal PLoS Medicine, countered by an opposing view authored by Jeff Collin, a professor of global health policy from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Other smokers were not in favor of the licensing plan.

"It's horrifying. How dare someone tell me what I can or can't do to my body?" asked smoker Margaret Geary.

Smokers would need to be 18-years-old, and pass a test indicating that they knew the risks of smoking.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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