And (by really bad coincidence) a new NZ Treasury report says smoking actually saves the Government money!
That's because smokers often die earlier than non-smokers and thus the country doesn't have to pay them superannuation. The report says smokers pay $1.3 billion a year in tax...that's more than what they cost the country in health bills. It's long been a quirky anecdotal suspicion (much like the public perception of police speed cameras), that's now official!
Treasury then boldly goes where no smoker has puffed before to write that, due to smokers' shorter life expectancy reducing superannuation and aged-care costs, they're already "paying their way in narrowly fiscal terms"!! The report says smoking helps, not harms, the public coffers, because smokers' earlier deaths save huge pension costs of NZ$5.5-5.8 billion a year!
[The report was prepared for last week's Budget decision to raise the tax on cigarettes by 10% per year for the next four years, beginning Jan.2013. This, in addition to the annual inflation-indexed increase, will lift the average price of a 20-pack to over $20 by 2016.]
But then the whole subject moves from the sublime to the ridiculous: the NZ Institute of Economic Research oddly suggests that smokers should be able to pay increased prices into a special fund, and get the money back later if they can prove they've quit. Like their own little carcenogenic savings account!
These sorts of statements from officialdom actually undermine the very issue that's trying to be resolved ie: making NZ completely smokefree by 2025. Treasury could well be misconstrued, by those seeking any validation of their habit, as saying "Please keep smoking - it's good for NZ!"
Sometimes reports like these need to be released with discretion.