The right to information is a fundamental consumer value. Following the advent of health warnings, the tobacco industry has repeatedly asserted that smokers are fully informed of the risks they take, while evidence demonstrates widespread superficial levels of awareness and understanding. There remains much that tobacco companies could do to fulfil their responsibilities to inform smokers. We explore issues involved in the meaning of “adequately informed” smoking and discuss some of the key policy and regulatory implications. We use the idea of a smoker licensing scheme—under which it would be illegal to sell to smokers who had not demonstrated an adequate level of awareness—as a device to explore some of these issues. We also explore some of the difficulties that addiction poses for the notion that smokers might ever voluntarily assume the risks of smoking.
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Competing interests: none declared
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