Another study is promoting the line that raising taxes on cigarettes would stop people smoking, thereby saving millions of lives.
The study reckons that raising taxes would have a three-pronged benefit – saving lives, cutting smoker numbers and generating revenue.
Just one thing: a successful policy will dissuade smokers from continuing with their habit, and the more successful the policy, the fewer smokers remain to pay the tax.
So how can the Government coffers benefit from that?
Alf gets his information on this research here at the Daily Mail.
Tripling tax on cigarettes across the world would prevent 200 million premature deaths from lung cancer, experts claim.
The drastic increase in tax would cut the number of smokers by a third as prices double.
The increase would also narrow the price gap between the cheapest and most expensive cigarettes, encouraging people to quit rather than switch to a cheaper brand, a new study has found.
The Daily Mail is a bit slow at identifying the author(s) of the study.
Rather than do that at this juncture in its report, it has noted that…
At the United Nations General Assembly and the World Health Organisation’s 2013 Assembly, countries across the world agreed to cut smoking rates by a third, by 2025.
The aim is to reduce the number of premature deaths from cancer and other diseases related to smoking, by a quarter.
Next, readers are given some data about the death toll from lung cancer in Britain.
The data are curiously a few years old:
Cancer Research UK said 42,000 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK in 2010, and less than 10 per cent survive the disease, for at least five years after diagnosis.
In 2010, 34,900 people died from the disease.
A reference then is made to what we already know:
Previous research has shown those people who start smoking when they are young continue to do so throughout adulthood, and have two to three times the mortality rate of non-smokers.
An average of 10 years of life is lost from smoking, with many of those dying still in middle age – meaning on average they lose around 20 years from their life expectancy.
However, the new study has found quitting smoking at a young age could help people regain almost all of the decade they may have otherwise lost.
And then – at long last – we are given the name of someone involved in the study, so we can check out his credentials.
Professor Sir Richard Peto from University of Oxford said: ‘Worldwide, around a half-billion children and adults under the age of 35 are already – or soon will be – smokers and on current patterns few will quit.
‘So there’s an urgent need for governments to find ways to stop people starting and to help smokers give up.
‘This study demonstrates that tobacco taxes are a hugely powerful lever and potentially a triple win – reducing the numbers of people who smoke and who die from their addiction, reducing premature deaths from smoking and yet, at the same time, increasing government income.
‘All governments can take action by regularly raising tobacco taxes above inflation, and using occasional steep tax hikes starting with their next budget.
‘Young adult smokers will lose about a decade of life if they continue to smoke – they’ve so much to gain by stopping.’
Well, yes. They would live longer.
Or be killed by something else.
The Daily Mail proceeds to publish some comments in favour of higher tobacco taxes.
And it finishes by saying the study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Nowhere does it include comment from economists who would point out that the longer people live, the greater is the drain on the public purse as these people lay claim to old-age pensions (or National Super and Gold Card benefits in this country).
In short, we would do taxpayers a favour by leaving smokers to get on with smoking and with reducing their prospects of becoming national superannuitants.