Iceland considers relegating smokes to the pharmacy

Cigarettes would only be available with a prescription

When it comes to draconian anti-smoking rules, no country has considered going as far as Iceland. This fall, the country’s parliament will debate a radical new proposal that would outlaw the sale of cigarettes outside of pharmacies, where they would only be available with a prescription. The bill, sponsored by former health minister Siv Fridleifsdottir, aims to “protect children and youngsters,” she says, and to stop them from ever taking up the habit.

Iceland, however, is not alone in throwing up new barriers to smokers. In Australia next year, cigarettes will be sold in plain, brown packaging, prohibiting the use of tobacco industry logos, colours or brand imagery. In Sweden, surgeons refuse to treat smokers; patients are given blood tests to ensure compliance. Finland, meanwhile, is hoping to ban smoking entirely by 2040.

The Icelandic proposal also suggests treating tobacco smoke as a carcinogen, restricting it the same way the country does other known cancer-causing agents. The bill, however, may never see the light of day. A spokesperson for the Icelandic Ministry of Welfare said the proposal, although “very serious” and backed by the Icelandic Medical Association, has little chance of passing.