fat_smoker.jpgThe government's suggestion - however tentative - that people who are overweight or won't quit smoking shouldn't get treated by Britain's state-run National Health Service is outrageous.

These people have paid their taxes - smokers have probably paid more than most - for what we're told is a state 'insurance' system. What commercial health insurer would be allowed to take your money and then refuse to pay out on the grounds that your lifestyle was politically incorrect?

Health ministers say they're simply trying to encourage people to live more healthily. And indeed, plenty of commercial insurers are doing just that - reports this week reveal that they are willing to give discounts of 75 percent to people who use the gym regularly, and provide supermarket points to
clients who purchase lots of fruit and vegetables.

That's fine. The difference is that people have no choice but to contribute their tax 'premium' to the NHS. If ministers were saying that fat smokers wouldn't get NHS treatment but they'd get their taxes back, then they might have the basis for a deal.