Should smokers be paid to quit?
We had the 'death warnings' printed on the back of every packet. Now, they have been replaced with graphic pictures showing us the effect smoking has on our bodies. Yet, despite all efforts made, the habit is costing many.
Just recently, I saw a man, wearing pyjamas, hooked up to a chest drain, pushing the apparatus across the hospital car park in an effort to find a secluded spot to enjoy his 'fag'. Since the 1950's, people have used the morbid joviality 'put another nail in your coffin' when offering someone a cigarette, so it is not exactly 'news' to discover that smoking is bad for you. But if the real motivation for smokers to give up isn't health, it should be cost. Even people who buy the relatively cheap, and often illegal 'imports', know what 'mort' implies on the back of a packet.
Not only will the 'moderate' smoker (between 10 and 20 per day) save approximately £1,500 per year on buying cigarettes, but they can save as much as 55% on life assurance and 25% on health insurance. Now that it has been calculated that cigarettes account for 40% of accidental fires, it will not be long before home insurance companies follow suit.
The issue that puts many people off quitting is the high cost of items such as nicotine patches and gum. It is true that they work out cheaper then feeding a moderate smoking habit, but smokers resent paying so much money for something that is not exactly enjoyable. Non smokers may also be alarmed at the fact that nicotine replacement products are prescribed to smokers, costing them no more than a standard prescription charge. But before we protest too much, let us bear this fact in mind: last year, smoking costed the NHS 2.7 billion pounds, and in 2006/2007 the revenue from tobacco earned the government £8.1 billion in excise duty and £1.9 billion in VAT to the British Treasury, netting a profit of £7.3 billion. So smokers have certainly paid for their extra health benefits!