The case for Tobacco to become a licenced
Politicians in Iceland are set to debate a law that
would make cigarettes available only with a doctor’s prescription.
Under the terms of a proposed new law introduced by the former
minister of health, Siv Fridleifsdottir:
• Only smokers aged 20 and older would be allowed to buy
• Cigarettes would be sold only in pharmacies. Eventually,
only smokers with a doctor’s certificate would be able to
• Doctors would work with smokers to help them break free
from their habit. Those that cannot or will not stop, would be granted
a medical license to purchase nicotine.
• Cigarette costs would increase by 10% initially (which according
to the WHO, should lead to a 4% to 8% decline in smoking rates)
but eventually, once cigarettes were available by prescription only,
prices would drop down below current prices.
President of the Icelandic Society of Cardiology, Thorarinn Gudnason,
helped draft the proposed law. Commenting on the plan to eventually
reduce the price of cigarettes, he explained, “Under our plan,
smokers who are given prescriptions will be diagnosed as addicts,
and we don't think the government should tax addicts."
Price increases and reduced disposable income after the nation’s
economic crash are credited with cutting smoking rates from 30%
in 1991 to 15% today – which is one of the lowest smoking
rates in Europe. Other measures already in place to further reduce
smoking rates over the next 10 years include a coming ban on smoking
in all public places and in cars carrying children.
The proposed law is backed by the Icelandic Medical Association
and various anti-tobacco groups. At present, 20% of deaths in Iceland
are attributable to smoking, a figure that health experts think
they can reduce by two thirds with tough anti smoking measures.