The good news is that a Smoker’s Permit will cost only £10. The bad news is how you apply for it

You still have freedom of choice. Provided you’re carrying a valid Freedom of Choice Permit

Morning, citizen! The grandly titled Julian Le Grand, chairman of a ministerial advisory board called Health England, has a humdinger of an idea for you: smoking permits. He proposes a ban on the sale of tobacco to anyone who can’t flash a licence at the cashier.

Good news for smokers: Le Grand reckons said licence should cost only £10. Bad news: he wants to make the application process as deliberately complex as possible. You’d have to fill out a lengthy form, attaching a photograph, proof of age and a fee, and send it all to a central Smoker’s Permit processing centre and wait for your licence to come back, by which point, let’s face it, you would have probably died. Oh, and the licence expires after a year, so you have to apply all over again each time it runs out.

Why leave it there? Why not make it expire every 24 hours, so you have to reapply each morning? Or include a Sudoku on the application form? Or force the tobacco companies to sell cigarettes inside complicated Japanese puzzle boxes? Or change the name of the brands each week, without publicising the change, while simultaneously making it illegal for a shop to sell you anything you haven’t asked for by name, so you have to stand at the counter fishing for codewords for an hour?

Or here’s a good one, Julian: make it a requirement for smokers to walk around with a broomhandle stuck through their sleeves, running behind the neck, so their arms are permanently splayed out, like a scarecrow’s. To spark up under those conditions, they’d have to work together in pairs, flailing around in the outdoor smoking area like something out of It’s a Knockout.

 For more of this tongue in cheek article, click here