Tobacco (35) Do people understand the harms of using tobacco products? (14) Understanding the economic impact of tobacco (2)

3 March, 2023

Thank you, Tom, for sharing this information. [ ]

Undoubtedly the economic aspect of the tobacco problem is not minor. The tobacco industry (or its allies) has always used this to its advantage, and not infrequently raises arguments like the one you mention.

Regarding the UK Office for Budget Responsibility, Tobacco duties are levied on purchases of cigarettes, hand-rolled tobacco, cigars and other forms of tobacco. In 2022-23 we estimate that tobacco duties will raise £10.7 billion. This represents 1.2 per cent of all receipts and is equivalent to 0.4 per cent of national income. Duty on cigarettes accounts for the majority of all tobacco duty receipts.

Regarding ASH-UK, a new economic analysis of national data for ASH finds the cost of smoking to society is significantly higher than previous estimates have shown. The cost of smoking to society totals £17.04 bn for England each year.

Therefore, the statement in the BBC audition is not correct.

But even if it were, the direct health damage costs are only part of the social cost of smoking. Indirect costs (disability pensions, loss of productivity, etc.) often double or triple direct costs.

To which we must add: how much is a human life worth? This is not taken into account.

Finally, I want to clarify that smokers pay tobacco taxes, but the tobacco industry does not assume responsibility for the health, economic, environmental, and social damage that it causes in all countries.

Smoking is an "industrially produced" epidemic, by companies that spare no effort, or human lives, to profit. How much longer are we going to allow it? Shouldn't they take responsibility for the harm they cause, and compensate society for it... or else stop producing these deadly products?

Dr. Eduardo Bianco (NGU-Frank Foundation for International Health)

HIFA profile: Eduardo Bianco is a medical doctor and Cardiologist, Certified Tobacco Cessation Expert with a Master’s in Prevention and Treatment of Addictive Disorders. Currently, he is Chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group. Dr. Bianco’s research examines tobacco control and cessation, and he is a prominent member of several organizations that address tobacco control in Latin America. Dr. Bianco has worked for 25 years in Uruguay and Latin America to promote and train in smoking cessation treatment and tobacco control policies. He is also the former Regional Coordinator for the Americas of the Framework Convention Alliance and former Technical Director of the MOH Center for International Cooperation for Tobacco. He is a member of the HIFA working group on substance use disorders. Email: ebianco AT