Smoking costs – but who?

Over in Kiwi the Kiwi Blog is highlighting an article exposing faulty reasoning behind estimates of smoking costs.

Estimates of smoking costs there have suddenly jumped from $350 million dollars to $1.9 billion dollars and one journalist was attempting to work out why.

David Crampton found that the Ministry of Health arrived at the estimate by making the assumption that there would be no end of life costs whatever for smokers if they didn’t smoke.

Which is not true. Everybody dies of something, and most of those illnesses require treatment.

More costs

In the UK, the cost of smoking is often increased by assigning a monetary value to a year of life.

Of course, valuing life is an appropriate idea and a useful economic tool in a modern society, although whether it should be used for misleading smokers into thinking they are costing the economy more or as an excuse for increasing tobacco taxes is another matter.

A monetary value for life is an idea, but the taxes smokers pay are very real. In the UK, tobacco taxes brought in 10.5 billion pounds for the UK government.

Meanwhile, smokers are a boon for government struggling to pay pension costs for an aging population.

In 2009 UK public sector pensions alone were forecast to rise to £3.8 billion.

Fortunately for the government, smokers kindly step off the mortal coil several years earlier than non-smokers, saving the country billions of pounds in pensions.

What’s more, the majority of smokers die after rather than before retirement age, meaning they contribute a lifetime of taxes to the pot (but then die before they get to claim it back!)

In addition, smokers are less likely to die of expensive old age related diseases. Taking care of Alzheimers alone in the UK costs £11 billion pounds – that’s twice the cost of treating smoking diseases (which is covered twice over by smoking taxes.) And that’s just ONE old age disease.


I am not saying don’t quit smoking here. But quit for the right reasons – because you want to quit, because you want to stop subsidising the rest of the nation and because you’d like to get some of those taxes back in pensions. And if you want to quit but can’t, consider switching to the electronic cigarette – and get back to paying the same VAT rates as the rest of the nation!

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2 thoughts on “Smoking costs – but who?

  1. What are the rules in the UK regarding E Cigs? They are trying to clamp down on it in the USA. I don’t know what the end result will be, but I am certainly voicing my opinion in support of the movement.

  2. Currently we can market it as healthier alternative but not as a quit smoking aid. The MHRA have been talking about enforcing licensing as a medical device but after months and months of talking they still seem unable to make a decision.

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