Buying Cigarettes
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Prescription cigarettes

Iceland's cigarette lovers might soon need to call their doctor in order to get a pack. A new bill would ban the sale of cigarettes in regular shops, allowing only pharmacies to dispense them. It's part of a 10-year plan to drastically limit smoking in the country.

Arnthor Indridason, owner of a tobacco shop in the capitol city thinks it's an idiotic proposal.

"We did not know if we should laugh or cry when this proposal came from the government, because it's fascism to think that tobacco users should go to a pharmacy to buy their tobacco.

Tobacco use is on a decline all over the world, so we are on the right track," said Siv Fridleifsdottir, Member of parliament and former health minister

The idea is to require smokers to be in frequent contact with doctors, given their increased health risks.

The country's former health minister proposed the bill and she's taking a hard line, "for your health." "The main aim of the proposal is to protect children and youngsters from starting to smoke. We can see that every day in Iceland, about two youngsters are starting to smoke, it's more than 700 every year, and half of them will die before they should because of the deceases related to the smoking, and that's just unacceptable, so we would like to take some radical steps."

Said Fridleifsdottir. "So after 10 years we should just sell the tobacco in the pharmacies, with prescriptions from doctors or other health care personnel. And regarding the cars, I think it will be no problem to adopt that rule, and when that's the fact, I think people in Iceland would not smoke in their cars, where they have children."

Over the past two decades, Iceland has cut smoking rates in half, from 30 percent in 1991 to 15 percent today.

Parliament will vote on the bill when they come back in session after the summer.

Published: Monday, July 11, 2011

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