Thursday, May 29, 2008

Smoker's health care costs

One of the most common arguments made by tobacco prohibitionists is that smokers represent a greater cost to the health care system than non-smokers. At every opportunity, the anti-smoker brigade loudly proclaims that smokers are costing Canadian “taxpayers” billions of dollars each and every year.

But, is it true?

Among those promoting a back door policy to prohibition is the “Physicians for a Smoke Free Canada”. The figures used in the chart above were taken from a fact sheet on their web site. They purport to show the costs associated with providing health care to Canadians who choose to smoke.

How accurate those figures may be is a matter for debate. Just how were these figures calculated? Did they simply take the information from the part of the admission form that asks if you smoke and how much? If you fell off your ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) and broke your arm, was it considered a smoking related incident, because you identified yourself as a smoker?

I suspect the methodology used to determine smoker’s health care costs would be an interesting read. But, let’s ignore the legitimacy of the figures for the purposes of this post and assume them to be correct.

According to the figures provided on their web site, Physicians for a Smoke Free Canada estimates that the total cost of medical treatment for smokers was $4.36 billion in 2006.

That’s a healthy chunk of money. (Forgive the pun.)

What the fact sheet fails to mention is that smokers are taxpayers too. They contribute just as much to their health care costs as any other Canadian. In fact, they pay considerably more than most other Canadians.

For the 2005/2006 fiscal year, combined revenue for the two senior levels of government was $7.09 billion from taxes on tobacco products, not including sales taxes. Health care for smokers cost the “taxpayer” nothing. Through punitive taxation on tobacco, primarily cigarettes, smokers contribute $2.73 billion dollars more than they receive. In fact, not only do smokers pay for their own health care, they contribute roughly $83 annually towards the health care costs of every man, woman and child in the country.

To be candid, however, it should be noted that all the money collected from tobacco taxes does not go towards the health care of either the smoker or the general public. Tens of millions of dollars are siphoned off for the anti-smoker brigade to continue their campaign to de-normalize smokers.

Those who frequent sites such as this one are already aware of these facts. The general public is not. And, no one involved in the tobacco control movement, including the press and politicians, is about to tell them.

Why let the truth get in the way of their efforts to categorize smokers as abnormal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you have any sources? It's for a debate for my english class.

Can you answer fast, please.

Thank you.