Smoking Good For The Economy?

We constantly hear about the increasing cost of smoking to our society and the need for tougher regulations to prevent smoking and reduce these costs to society. However, studies demonstrate that this may not be the case all the time. Of course smoking causes health tribulations that have hefty costs associated to them; however nonsmokers cost the society more in the long run. Looking at some of the evidence I am tempted to be the devil’s advocate and conclude that smokers cost the society less than do nonsmokers in health care costs and social programs. Please do note, however, that I am not a smoker and this post is not meant to encourage smoking.


Smokers Pay More Taxes

The primary argument has been that those who smoke cost the society markedly in health care expenses as their health deteriorates. Tobacco In Canada compiled by Physicians For A Smoke-Free Canada in 2003 reports that Canadian smokers pay approximately $600.00 in cigarette taxes each year. As well, the tobacco industry has a whole has had to fork over about $65 million “health surtax” per year since 1994. These are significant amounts of money available to cover the health expenses of smokers. A majority of the health care costs can, therefore, be covered directly from the tax revenues collected from smokers and cigarette producers.

Smokers Cost Less

Smoking can cause a number of fatal diseases including many types of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, heart disease, and lung disease among others. The result is that smokers live shorter lives. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 5 million deaths are caused by tobacco use per year and on average smokers live 13-14 years less than nonsmokers worldwide. Initially higher expenses are involved in treating nonsmokers however they succumb to deadly diseases cause and die earlier then their non-smoking counterparts. The last decade of an elderly citizen’s life can be the most expensive one for its government however according to CDC 3,332,272 and 2,284,113 years of potential life was lost for males and females respectively in the United States between 1995 and 1999 alone. Nonsmokers live a longer life and hence cost the government a lot more money in medical bills, pension plans, subsidized housing, and other programs. Therefore, it is not necessarily true that a smoker’s health problems cost the society more because we nonsmokers will live longer and hence incur more expenses that the government would have to cover.

Smoking Kills

Nevertheless, the adverse affects of smoking go beyond the smokers and hence cost the society. CDC reports that approximately 126 million adults and children are exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke has grave consequence because it causes hearth disease, lung cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome among other sicknesses. As well, land and trees are used in production of cigarettes that can be used for production of food or otherwise. Additionally, smoking discharges thousands of chemicals into the air we breathe; millions of cigarette butts are thrown on the grown daily and end up in the waters of our lakes and rivers – where it’s accessible by the whole ecosystem. To conclude there are grave consequence born by our environment and our society, however the monetary cost of smoking to our governments is overly exaggerated.

What are your thoughts on smoking?

10 Responses to Smoking Good For The Economy?

  1. From a monetary standpoint you bring up some good points. However, there is more to life than money. So whether it is good or not should not be boiled done to just the monetary impact. Just because something costs less or helps people save money does not necessarily make it good. Is recycling good? You could probably argue that it costs more money. There is value in spending the extra money.

  2. I’m curious to find out how much taxes smoking brings in each year and if it plays a role. I agree in some ways when you look at that it can be good for the economy. Bad in terms of health even if you state they may die earlier, because there will be more complications and expensive procedures following up to that point which is part of the problem we have already in this country.

  3. As long as the taxes for tobacco goes right into a public health system, I would agree with this post, but that’s just a bit naive… I would also agree that the cost of the health detriments on government is exaggerated, but probably not to the health insurance industry (greedy bastards 😉 )

    One thing I might add, though, is that the amount spent on quitting smoking has created an industry on its own…there’s certainly something to be said about that.

  4. i that that babit witha passion especially since smokers seem to do so with impunity without caring that the second hand smoke they are exhaling is even more dangerous to those around them than it is to them. Bad habit. bad bad habit

  5. OK kenyantykoon is a nut-job. Come on second hand smoke is more dangerous than first hand. OK sure and we haven’t been to the moon. Regardless of taxes or markets created, it is still better for society financially speaking. As the article says, us non-smokers will live longer which will translate into years of social security, but what it fails to mention is that as you age there will be numerous complication/diseases that are simply part of the aging process. Therefore the system will have to pay the same or more in just medical costs. As far as there being more to life than just a bottom line. Sure there is. There is the freedom to choice what you want to do as long as it is legal. I do not smoke, but the people I know that do, don’t seem to want to stop. So they enjoy smoking… so let them. The tobacco industry is not the ones making tons of money off smokers. It is the government!

  6. That’s why, I suspect, China actually encourages its citizens to smoke. Everyone smokes in China, at least it seemed so when I visited there a few years ago. There is no ban on smoking in restaurants or public places. There is no public message to discourage people from smoking. Their political leaders set examples by always having a cigarette dangling in their mouths. I think their government knows something that ours don’t — that smoking kills people conveniently around age 65, just when they are done with paying taxes and ready to draw on social entitlements. Hey, it is one’s freedom and right, afterall, if he wants to smoke. It may even be good for society!

  7. Tobacco in Canada generates over $7,5 billion in taxes and it costs $4,5 billion for healthcare that’s counting everything they tell us smoking ”causes” including genital warts. This net profit of approx. $3 billion doesn’t even adjust for regular taxes smokers pay, for pensions, subsidized housing and other end of life costs saved because smokers die younger (or at least that’s what they tell us the statistics show). And it doesn’t include the various taxes the tobacco industry and the many secondary industries it sustains pay into the government coffers. Smoking is lucrative for everyone but the smoker himself. Is it any wonder they never ever talk about total prohibition? And let’s be very clear about it, it’s not only the government that doesn’t call for prohibition, it is the anti-tobacco industry as a whole. Understandable from their point of view when you consider that if smoking became illegal the anti-tobacco zealots would be out of a jo,. Big Pharma would see their sales of virtually useless nicotine replacement products and dangerous drugs such as Champix and Zyban decline and how would the hypnotists, laser, occupuncture gurus and all those parasites of the anti-tobacco industry survive? Society should be thanking smokers not demonizing them!

  8. The tobacco industry is one of the most profitable businesses in the country, making billions of dollars every year. But the costs of smoking are far higher than the income from cigarette sales.

  9. john cairns predicted about 40 years ago in thr Scientific American that abolishing smoking would bankrupt social security

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