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Ed Miliband’s Silly Demand For More Tobacco Taxes

by | 24th, September 2014

Sure, we’d all like to have a better NHS. And sure, raising more tax revenue to spend on the NHS might be one way to achieve that. We can argue about whether it would be a good way some other time. But there’s a problem with Ed Miliband’s de4mand that because ‘baccy costs the NHS money therefore ‘baccy should pay more taxes. The problem being that smoking doesn’t cost the NHS money.

It’s obviously true that smokers do get diseases from smoking and that they thus need and get medical treatment from the NHS. So we could say that the NHS has to spend money because of smoking. But it’s also true that all of us die and thus we all get medical treatment from the NHS over time. And smokers are with us a shorter amount of time than people who don’t smoke. Meaning that they actually consume less health care, and thus cost the NHS less, than those who do not smoke:

In any case, they bored for America on all the sins of tobacco, including its alleged cost to the public purse in treating the various health conditions associated with smoking. Actually that’s not the case, piped up Professor Doll. “Tobacco smokers will on average have reduced life expectancy, and are quite likely to die before they become a burden on the state and the rest of society. What’s more they tend to die quite quickly, so their medical costs are not off the scale, compared with keeping, say, an eighty year old alive. The economy will have had the benefit of their productive life, but few of the costs of their inactive ones”.

This explanation left the ASH brigade quite speechless, which was a merciful release for all of us. I wouldn’t advocate smoking as a form of enforced euthanasia, but let’s get our facts right here. Tobacco companies have many faults, but they are not a cost to society.

On the very same grounds fatties and boozers also save the NHS money.

Hey, maybe the NHS does need more money. Maybe’ baccy and booze would be great places to get more money. But the argument that we should tax smoking more because it costs the NHS money just isn’t true, just not true at all.



Posted: 24th, September 2014 | In: Money Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink