The Benefits of Smoking
Is smoking bad? Most everyone would say, “Yes, of course!” Stricter advertising limitations and millions of dollars spent on marketing have caused a weaning of public opinion. Advertisements depicting diseased gums and the inherent negative effects of smoking take over the majority of real estate on recent cigarette packaging. In classrooms across the country, the negative consequences of smoking such as lung cancer, emphysema and the effects of second-hand smoke are ingrained. However, as smoking becomes less prevalent in society, some unintended consequences about the effects of smoking have come to light.
On September 19, 2011, Business Insider reported that the 2% rise in Body Mass Index was a result of American’s growing distaste for the cigarette. Studies seek to find a taxable correlation between obesity and smoking only to prove the opposite. The result? Smokers are 7.8% less likely to become obese. In a separate article written in the Winston-Salem Journal reported that in the 2008-2009 fiscal year the state “allocated $2 million to the Division of Public Health for obesity prevention.” On December 5th, 2011 North Carolina received $3.7 million in federal grants to fund obesity prevention in two rural areas; money that originally went to anti-tobacco efforts went to obesity prevention instead.
An article written in the Tax Foundation states that in the Netherlands, “unhealthy” people, reportedly, save the government in health-care costs. This claim is supported by information from ehealthinsurance.com. The cost to the customer is greater, however, a smoker ultimately saves the government money in health-care costs. The average cost of a normal weight, non-smoker is $327,726 over his lifetime compared to $257,515 for a smoker.
In the case of Massachusetts, which has the highest tax rate on cigarettes, reported in 2009 a $900 million in state revenue – $4.5 million to anti-smoking programs this year alone. The rest of the revenue is going to a pool for funding wherever lawmakers decided to funnel the funds. Two years ago the state raised the price of a pack of cigarettes by $1. “While that money did not go directly to anti-smoking efforts, it is earmarked to help pay for the state’s health insurance program.” As a result, smokers pay more for services they won’t enjoy the benefits of.
Not only does smoking save on costs for health-care companies, but it has been proven to help in certain disease prevention as well. Nicotine, a main component of cigarettes, appears to aid in attention and cognitive functions including both short and long-term memory. Also, smoking has been proven to prevent Parkinson’s disease, reduce the risk of Breast Cancer, and help in cases of Tourette’s syndrome and Rheumatoid Arthritis, among others. Research by Dr. David Morens of the University of Hawaii has shown a 50% reduction in the risks of developing Alzheimer’s in smokers correlating to the number of years they have smoked. This is due to the increase of nicotine receptors in the brain as a result of smoking. Similarly, smokers are half as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Fourteen out of seventeen studies have proven similar results. In fact, the positive results were so significant that researchers began to look into using nicotine to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease5. There are consequences to smoking, but the unintended economic and health consequences are often overlooked.