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Australia v Big Tobacco

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CB27
829026.  Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:00 am Reply with quote

I personally don't think cigarettes should be banned, so it's pointless for me to join in a discussion about the revenue they bring in, but I do dispute the costs attributed to it for the NHS and other departments because it's hard to properly quantify.

 
exnihilo
829028.  Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:05 am Reply with quote

Dispute on the basis of some evidence, as the nice people at Oxford did? Or just dispute?

 
CB27
829042.  Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:58 am Reply with quote

As I couldn't find a copy of the report itself, I had to go with the press release, and the bit that says:

Quote:
Finally, their financial estimates for the direct impact of smoking on the NHS came to 5.2 billion for 2005/6, which equates to 5.5% of the total NHS budget for that year a proportion that has not changed since the early 1990s.

This annual cost is still likely to be an underestimate, say the Dr Allender and colleagues, because it does not include indirect costs, such as lost of productivity and informal care; the costs of treating disease caused by passive smoking, or the full range of conditions associated with smoking.

I could be wrong, but this suggests two possibilities to me, one is that they simply attributed a percentage suggested years before to the budget, the second is the mention that they didn't calculate the costs to a number of treatments, many of which were funded by local councils and other departments.

 
AlmondFacialBar
831099.  Tue Jul 12, 2011 6:37 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
exnihilo wrote:
Just the name in a standard font?


Precisely that. The packs are to be a standardized colour (a rather unpleasant olive grey) and the writing is to be in black, and in a standardized font (it's Arial or something very similar) and point size. Prescribed health warnings also have to be carried.

Canada contemplated a similar move a few years back, although the proposal there had the packs white. The Conservatives did not support it and so it seems unlikely to be resurrected just now. The health warning on Canadian cigarette packs is required to appear in both English and French (usually on opposite sides of the pack), and so it takes up even more space than elsewhere.


In Ireland the health warning is bilingual, too, and between the idiosyncracies of Irish spelling and the requirement from Brussels to have it all in plain view on the front of the pack, the actual branding is now squeezed in so small that it's all but disappeared. Also, cigarettes can no longer be displayed visibly in shops and there can be no brand logos on the clised cabinets. In short, we're already pretty close to what the Australian government is proposing, but I can't really say I see fewer people smoke.

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
Spud McLaren
831103.  Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:06 pm Reply with quote

exnihilo wrote:
Is it, though? If tobacco ceased to exist today Government revenue would be 10 billion less, but the cost tot he NHS would decrease by only 5 billion, so that 5 billion would need to come from elsewhere, presumably from increases in NI contributions, which would be very unpopular indeed.
Does the picture change at all if we factor in the financial burden to industry of (an estimated) 34 million working days per annum lost in smoking-related absences from work? I've no idea how to calculate this, but could the employers share the proceeds with the taxman?

Honest question, no hidden agenda here...

 
dr.bob
831157.  Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:41 am Reply with quote

I have no figures to back up this assertion, but I would've thought the savings to the pension pot through having smokers die unnaturally early would massively outweigh any expense they run up.

Though I could be wrong.

 
exnihilo
932440.  Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:44 am Reply with quote

Well, it has come to pass. The Australian High Court has rejected the tobacco companies' appeal against plain packaging and the law will be implemented on December 1. This is handy for the UK government as it will give them someone else to watch for a bit to see how it plays out before introducing similar restrictions. It may well work but in the short term I see two things happening, the first is a dip in the sales of premium brands as people opt for cheaper ones now that the packs all look the same and the second is a rise in the sale of cigarette cases.

 
barbados
932450.  Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:58 am Reply with quote

I think I would agree with CB when it comes to doubting the costs of smoking related illness.

It is well documented that you can get statistics to say exactly what you want them to, and I would question what the researchers include as a smoking related illness. For example, would the Oxford researchers include the months of rehab that Sharon Hudson has had to endure with the brain damage that she has thanks to falling asleep with a lit cigarette in her hand.

 
exnihilo
932456.  Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:15 am Reply with quote

Cui bono?

Is it in Oxford's interest to downplay the costs? I'm not sure if you read their report, but they were saying that the costs were five times greater than previously thought that would suggest to me they included things that hadn't been up until then, although I'm not sure I'd include that particular example as being the fault of tobacco. But maybe I'm just not skeptical enough?

As you likely don't subscribe to the BMJ you may need to access their report from a university library or similar.

 
barbados
932466.  Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:36 am Reply with quote

Does it really matter whether it is the Oxford Group's interest to downplay figures. The cost of smoking on the NHS has always only included smoking related illnesses, but there are other associated costs that do not get included in the figures. For example, the Sharon Hudson case was as a direct result of cigarettes. If you took cigarettes out of the equation then all she would have is a hangover and three children. She ended up with brain damage and no children. Why wouldn't you include this example?

If you look at all of the death and illness caused by smoking, then the 5billion is probably just the tip of the iceberg

 
exnihilo
932467.  Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:42 am Reply with quote

Yes it matters who benefits, because you're basically suggesting, without any evidence, that the Oxford group would have chosen to ignore certain costs. If that is so then what was their motivation? Why would a group seeking to explore the real costs of smoking voluntarily not include the real costs of smoking? Who benefits from their mendacity?

Again, I suggest actually reading the report. At present you're making a baseless argument about what you reckon might or might not be included and what it probably really costs, a needlessly emotive one at that, and that's a waste of everyone's time.


Last edited by exnihilo on Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:43 am; edited 1 time in total

 
suze
932469.  Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:43 am Reply with quote

exnihilo wrote:
This is handy for the UK government as it will give them someone else to watch for a bit to see how it plays out before introducing similar restrictions.


If the government does decide to go down that road, isn't the plan going to run into the same problem as the House of Lords nonsense?

That is to say, the LibDems broadly support the idea (and so does Labour fwiw), but the Tory right are opposed. 34 Tory MPs wrote to Andrew Lansley telling him that they could not support the idea; only four signed an EDM in favour of it. (Admittedly it was an EDM put down by a Labour MP, but the signing of EDMs is not whipped and is usually not along party lines.)

 
exnihilo
932472.  Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:47 am Reply with quote

I don't imagine it'll go anywhere for now. The consultation has closed and all the interested parties (bar FOREST) seem to be in favour but there will be a period of doing nothing, because it's not a priority, which will handily coincide with a trial of the same idea in a broadly similar environment. When, and if, it comes to it I would imagine there will be more than enough support in both Houses to see it passed into law because it's one of those handy measures that costs the Government nothing but looks like they're doing something big.

 
barbados
932490.  Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:32 am Reply with quote

I shall take a look tomorrow at work - should be able to find a log in somewhere there. To save keep coming back, do you have access to any other reports that would confirm your assumption that the revenue outweighs the cost to the nation at around the 2:1 ratio you claimed?
I would hate to take the time to look at the link you have given only for another to appear with more in depth information. As you say, I don't subscribe to the BMJ so initially I could only go on the first link - which doesn't really say much about what is included as a cause in the research, hence the assumption of just the usual suspects of heart disease and respiratory illnesses, ignoring the damage caused by, but not attributed to, smoking

 
exnihilo
932507.  Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:08 am Reply with quote

To be fair I didn't make an assumption, I reported other people's findings. However, Cancer Research UK and the Policy Echange think it's a great deal higher, perhaps as much as 14billion which is more than is contributed by duty. They include 2.9billion in lost revenue through smoking breaks and a further 2.9billion lost by absenteeism and, perhaps a little surprisingly, a further 4.1billion lost to the economy by premature death. All of which does seem to assume a Herculean devotion to work by non-smokers and to ignore the point made by dr. bob about pensions and care homes and the like.

 

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