Letter: Stop tinkering and just ban tobacco

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Sir: Your leading article of 20 May suggests that the NHS should start charging smokers. This is an excellent idea. Smokers should be made to take out private health insurance. A surcharge should be made, vouchers should be put in each cigarette packet, and when enough had been saved this would permit the smoker access to private healthcare.

Of course the present tax on each packet would have to be removed, which even with the health surcharge would more than halve the price, and the shortfall to the Exchequer would mean a sharp increase in income tax rates all round. However, this would be much fairer than the present situation, as the tax on tobacco is the most regressive of all. At present, low-income smokers subsidise the health care of middle-class non-smokers, and then get told by newspaper editors that they should be at the back of the health queue because of their habit.

The Rev DAVID E FLAVELL

(Ex-Smoker)

Peterlee, Co Durham

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