Have you ever heard this complaint?
“Why should I pay for your health treatment out of my taxes?”
It’s encouraged by various statistics which argue that smoking is a strain on the economy (citing lost work, cost to the NHS e.t.c.)
And with between a half and a third of all smokers dying of a smoking related disease (depending on which statistics you believe) it seems like a valid point.
The True Cost of Smoking
In fact, you need not feel so guilty. Despite huge rises in the cost of treating smoking related diseases, smokers are actually subsidising the NHS to the tune of several billion a year.
According to a recent report in the BBC, smoking costs the NHS 2.7 billion pounds a year. This huge figure compares with 1.7 billion a year ago, and the only reason it is not higher is because so many smokers have given up in recent years – a fall from 12 million to 9 million.
This is still a fraction, however, of the amount of money the government raises from tobacco. According to figures from the Tobacco Manufacturers Association the government raised a huge 10 billion in revenue in the tax year 2006/07. (Since this post has been written, smoking taxes have grown ever higher, although will be offset by the millions switching from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes.)
Savings from Smoking
That’s not the only saving the government makes. Despite claims of lost workers and productivity, most smokers tend to die after retirement. So essentially you pay higher taxes all your life, and then die before you can take advatange of government pensions you have been contributing towards all your life.
As for the cost of smoking diseases – remember that we all die of something eventually. And the cost of treating old age diseases (diseases like Alzheimers can take years to cure) is generally higher than treating relatively quick killers like lung cancer.
So you have no reason to be ashamed of what they cost the NHS – in fact you are paying for the health treatment of those grumpy non-smokers. You may, however, feel grumpy about having to pay out so much money, although the WHO has argued that high taxes are the best possible way to get people to quit smoking.
Some people (87% of vapers, in fact, according to a survey of 1600 ecig users) believe this is the true reason behind opposition to ecigs – not so suprising when you consider that US states that have issued tobacco bonds face huge losses due to a big decrease in smoking.
And also not surprising when EU politicians are calling for action to be taken against ecigs specifically to protect tobacco tax revenue.
So smoking saves the country money – but at a huge cost to individual smokers.
In response, many smokers have switched to electronic cigarettes to save money – with the average 20 a day smoker saving around £2,000 a year.
What do you think? Are smokers a drain on the country, or do they contribute? And is it right that smokers pay such high taxes?