Smoking: Expenditures and Other Issues
Smoking causes such serious diseases as cancer, stroke, heart and lung diseases, diabetes and erectile dysfunction in men. It increases risk for a number of eye conditions, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis and others. On average, a smoker dies ten years earlier than a non-smoker. Nearly six million deaths per year are caused by smoking, and this number is sure to grow. Still this addiction (and this is the right word for it) breaks all the records as #1 bad habit in both men and women. Annual smoking costs amount to billions, and there seems to be no way to stop it.
USA, Australia and Canada Are Ahead of All
These countries are ahead of all others in many things, and both smoking costs and expenditures are no exception as well. Certainly, figures differ but in general they amount to billions of dollars (over $300 billion a year in the US, nearly $31.5 billion in Australia and around $17 billion in Canada). Basically, smoking affects both society and economy in the following cases:
• direct and indirect medical care for adults
• tobacco subsidies
• reduced productivity or lost income
• worker absenteeism
• and fire damage
All these factors are deeply intertwined, and all of them are the result of either premature death or exposure to second-hand smoking. In terms of expenditures, e.g. direct health care, costs are estimated at $170 billion in the US, $12 billion in Australia and $4.4 billion in Canada. Besides, although smokers pay for health care expenses, all other costs such as lost productivity, worker absenteeism or fire damage are covered by all the country residents. Finally, on average, hiring a smoker may cost an employer around $2,500 and more each year that hiring a non-smoker.
Smoking Habit Swallows Everything
Despite all kinds of warnings about health damage caused by smoking and related expenditures, most people have never thought of quitting the habit. They acquire serious medical conditions, get higher life insurance quotes, pay billions in tobacco taxes, cover all the damage caused like fires and holes in property (clothes, furniture and car interiors) and surely pay for the cigarettes themselves. Still the number of smokers is only growing every year. So, what is the way out?
Why Smoking Cannot Be Ever Banned
Being a purely bad habit that causes much damage to human health, society and economy smoking is unlikely to be ever banned, and there are several answers why not and suggestions how to:
1. Prohibition has never been the way out in anything; on the contrary, it may cause even graver problems. So, smoking issue should just be properly managed. Thus, using intelligent legislation like non-smoker protection laws, advertising legislation and even subsidizing quitting can help keep more control over the sphere.
2. Smoking industry generates lots of jobs as well as tax revenues; the fact that, surely, cannot be ignored. However, raising tobacco taxation seems to be the way to cut economic costs and smoking rates, but in reality it doesn’t work the way it should. Thus, e.g. in the US, states collecting billions of dollars from legal settlements and taxes spend no more than 15% of the required by CDC sum on tobacco control programs. It’s a kind of a rhetorical question who should manage this sphere.
3. Tobacco ban can be absolutely legal and constitutional but the question is whether there will be enough support on the part of civil libertarians, tobacco lobbyists and certainly smokers themselves. Here again only control over advertising and intelligent legislation can work.