I've finally found the political compromise that will end the smoking debate once and for all. And I actually have Al Gore to thank for it.
It will also add the benefit of helping to solve our national health care issues in the process. So it's a win for everyone.
The plan is modelled after Gore's "Carbon Credits" plan. The idea of the carbon credits, for the uninitiated, is that you pay for the pollution you create. It's kind of a special indulgence for the new millenium (if you don't know what a special indulgence is, jfgi. That's too many tangents for one thread).
Every smoker would pay for a "smoking credits". The cost of the license would be calculated based on their environmental impact, as well as their impact on the health of others. They would pay based on consumption, and their cigarette purchases would be rationed to the level of smoking credits they've purchased. Out of credits? Too bad. Buy more credits or suffer from the nicotine fit.
Once smoking credits have been purchased, the smoker would then be free to smoke whereever he wants. The doctor's office, the old folks' home, daycare, church, your living room. The credits are bought and paid for, and anyone who is affected can apply for relief from the proceeds of the credits.
The proceeds would be used to purchase health care for uninsured children (the most affected), to pay for environmental cleanup, and to pay the funeral expenses for squirrels who swallow the cigarette butts and subsequently choke to death when it swells up in their tiny little throats.
Smoking credits are the truly responsible approach to what might be mankind's greatest scourge. After all, if environmental credits are the answer to large scale pollution, smoking credits would be the perfect answer to such small scale pollution.
And who knows what it could lead to? Fat credits, religion credits, gangsta credits. The possibilities are endless!