As I have said before, I'm a non-smoker. Even so, I find it impossible to accept that smoking is costing the NHS the large sums that the antis claim, particularly if you take the revenue from tobacco taxation into account.
As I have got older, I have realised that the bulk of people that I knew, who have died in the past ten or so years, have cost the NHS or the Social Services quite a lot of money in the two or three years prior to their death. This may be by being in hospital, by having daily carers call, or being in a nursing home, and it is a depressing fact (to me) that unless one drops down with a heart attack, we are all going to end up requiring one, or more, of these services.
So what is different with smokers? Exactly the same happens with them, except in general it is at a somewhat younger age. They usually die of emphysema or cancer of the lungs rather than illnesses like Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. So where is the extra cost? In fact it us oldies who are costing the country money. We insist on staying as fit as possible, going to the GP for regular check-ups, consuming pills by the bucket load (if only statins for our cholesterol and diuretics for our blood pressure) and requiring annual flu injections.
And that is likely to be the minimum on-going NHS maintenance costs, without the running repairs. Two of my friend have recently fallen and broken their legs, requiring ambulances, hospital care and once home, physiotherapists, which certainly doesn't come cheap.
Then, of course, there are the other costs we incur, state pension, heating allowance, bus passes, and all the rest.
Now I am certainly not advocating that we should not get these things, but simply making the point that if you try to look at the situation logically, there is no reason for arguing that smokers, on average, cost the state any more than non-smokers. the costs simply come earlier in their, statistically shorter, lives.
So the only remaining question is whether the government has a moral duty to try to maximise people's lives. And if they do have this duty, should they try to force people to try to maximise their own lives?
Personally, I don't feel that they have the latter duty, and that their responsibility ends once they have made reasonable attempts to make sure that the public are aware of the risks. I believe they have more than fulfilled their duty, both towards smokers and non-smokers.
Indeed, their fanatical action on smoking in pubs has led to the reduction in size of my favourite local to about a third and the conversion of the remainder to a restaurant on the basis that it was no longer making a profit. As it was well ventilated before the ban, only a fanatical zealot could have objected, and he would have been free to drink elsewhere, just as the smokers are doing now. But I can no longer drink with my smoking friends at the pub, and it seems that I'll soon be unable to drink there at all as closure now seems imminent.
This site during the election
1 hour ago