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Smokers cost the NHS money so need to be taxed even more - wrong! Lies!

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 14 March 2016

In my podcast yesterday I argued that smokers should not be punished via new budget taxes as this was regressive tax (it hits the poor far harder than the rich). I also said it was "liberal" middle class morality imposed on all of us in a selective way - why not a gay bath-house tax to pay for Aids care? Actually I'd have neither as explained HERE but I ask the question. A reader responds in a very unpleasant way which - as it happens - is also factually wrong:

When you go to hospital with a smoking induced cancer it is nice to know that some of the care you receive has been paid for from the tobacco tax you have paid. It is all very well saying the NHS is free but some bugger has to pay for it! If you drive like a looney you pay higher insurance. Captain sensible like me who leads a healthy lifestyle is supporting and paying for your indulgences.

Au contraire, Captain sensible is being subsidised by smokers. According to Cancer Research UK the annual cost of treating someone with lung cancer is £9,071 and 41,000 folks will be diagnosed this year and 35,000 will die. That reflects the fact that your average disagnosis to death period is not long ( 14 months) so your average smoker costs the NHS c£10,500.

If I smoke 20 a day I am chipping in taxes of £6.17 a packet or put another way that would be £43.19 a week or £2,458 a year. Bingo, in a little bit over four years of smoking I have paid for all of my lung cancer treatment and thereafter I am just generating free taxes for the Government. We should be welcming everyone who takes up the habit and thanking them for the generous way that they fund the NHS.

Meanwhile Captain sensible will live to 90 with his puritan lifestyle at which point he will start to suffer dementia which will carry on for an average of around 4 years. According to the Alzheimer's Society 850,000 Britains suffered dementia in the UK in 2015 costing the taxpayer in NHS and social care £19.1 billion, yup that is indeed just over £20,000 a year per patient. And £80,000 all in with no "sin taxes" at the start to fund it. And I will ignore all those pension payments, free bus passes etc which the Captain picked up until going gaga unlike the smoker who had already moved on to a better place. Thank heavens there are all those selfless smokers out there doing the decent thing in paying stacks of taxes and then dying early and quickly to subsidise the selfish clean living bastards who pay no sin taxes and live well into their Alzheimer years.

The hard fact is that it is smokers whose taxes pay for the clean living.

But what about others who acquire illness as a result of lifestyle choices. I revert to the fellow who has vast amounts of unprotected sex in gay bath-houses and in due course contracts Aids as, regretably, he inevitably will.

Thankfully Aids is not an immediate death sentence these days. It is a manageable disease. And the lifetime cost to the British taxpayer of treating someone who becomes HIV positive is, accoring to a study by PLOS, £380,000.

If we are to run this on purely economic lines it strikes me that the case for the gay bath-house tax is now unanswerable as - incidentally - is the case for the super tax on folks like Captain Sensible as their penalty for being so clean living.

Naturally I would have none of these taxes as I do not believe the Government should dictate to the individual what he or she puts into their body be it a cigarette, some poofta's todger or some organic apples as part of a healthy 5 a day diet.

But please dont let the health nazis con you into thinking that smokers cost the NHS dearly. Au contraire, smokers are the folks who keep the NHS going.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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