Think Australian anti-smoking laws are tough? Iceland is considering banning cigarettes and making them prescription-only for those who cannot quit.
Former health minister Siv Fridleifsdottir has proposed a radical private member's bill in parliament that would make cigarettes a prescription-only product, banning their sale in regular shops and only allowing pharmacies to distribute them, the UK's Guardian reported.
Under the proposed 10-year plan, only those 20 years of age and older would be able to purchase cigarettes initially, and eventually, only smokers with a valid prescription would be able to legally feed their habit.
If the bill passes it would encourage smokers to enlist the help of their doctor to quit, and only be prescribed cigarettes if they failed to kick the habit.
Banning smoking in all public places, including parks and sidewalks and cars carrying children, is part of the proposed legislation. Cigarette prices would also rise by 10 percent initially, but eventually drop once they became a prescription-only product.
In Iceland every year, 300 people die from lung cancer, heart attacks and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease all known smoking-related diseases.
"That's 20 percent of all deaths," said Thorarinn Gudnason, the president of the Icelandic Society of Cardiology who helped prepare the policy. "We think that our proposals could lead to a significant reduction in smoking-related deaths perhaps down to just 100 annually."
Over the past 20 years, smoking rates in Iceland have dropped from 30 percent in 1991 to 15 percent today. The reduction is largely due to a large increase in tobacco taxes, which account for 25 percent of the cost of a pack, and repercussions of Iceland's financial collapse.
What do you think of this drastic measure?