Smokers Cost Taxpayers Less

Of course they do. They die, on average, seven years earlier than non-smokers who are not obese. They die, on average three or four years earlier than non-smokers who are obese. The people who cost the taxpayers the most through health care costs are – the healthy. They live longer, and still tend to die of strokes.

Communities that ban smoking in restuarants cannot justify the ban by pointing to the cost of health care supported by the taxpayer. Communities that justify banning trans-fats in fast food, or who deny service to the obese cannot justify the ban.

On average, healthy people lived 84 years. Smokers lived about 77 years, and obese people lived about 80 years. Smokers and obese people tended to have more heart disease than the healthy people.Cancer incidence, except for lung cancer, was the same in all three groups. Obese people had the most diabetes, and healthy people had the most strokes. Ultimately, the thin and healthy group cost the most, about $417,000, from age 20 on.

The cost of care for obese people was $371,000, and for smokers, about $326,000.

The results counter the common perception that preventing obesity will save health systems worldwide millions of dollars.

“This throws a bucket of cold water onto the idea that obesity is going to cost trillions of dollars,” said Patrick Basham, a professor of health politics at Johns Hopkins University who was unconnected to the study. He said that government projections about obesity costs are frequently based on guesswork, political agendas, and changing science.

Can bans be justified in other ways? Maybe. But I haven’t heard any other rational, except perhaps esthetics.

Van Baal described the paper as “a book-keeping exercise,” and said that governments should recognize that successful smoking and obesity prevention programs mean that people will have a higher chance of dying of something more expensive later in life.”Lung cancer is a cheap disease to treat because people don’t survive very long,” van Baal said. “But if they are old enough to get Alzheimer’s one day, they may survive longer and cost more.”

The study, paid for by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, did not take into account other potential costs of obesity and smoking, such as lost economic productivity or social costs.

“We are not recommending that governments stop trying to prevent obesity,” van Baal said. “But they should do it for the right reasons.”

Indeed.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: politics, Science

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: