The rising cost of Smoking

An anti-smoking message painted on a pedestria...

An anti-smoking message painted on a pedestrian crossing in the Orchard Road area in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The price of cigarettes is set to rise again, and while I support anti-smoking and awareness campaigns, I remain dubious that the prices will really put that many people off. This has been tried before and an addiction is an addiction whatever the price. Smokers already accumulate huge annual spending on their habit, yet this is not usually a sole reason for quitting, and one must want to quit to have the endurance to do so successfully.

My main concern is that smoking has been largely associated with poverty or low-income areas, where countless studies have shown that there are higher rates of smoking and obesity, and has been attributed to the fact junk food is generally cheaper than healthy foods, and a lack of sufficient education/awareness surrounding smoking and nutrition. This is despite research showing there are more smoking support facilities in lower-income areas, perhaps more to suit demand than strategically placed as a preventative measure. Will getting these people to spend more really help them? Would they be discouraged from smoking? Or merely encouraged to spend more on their addiction, and less on something more beneficial such as a decent meal.

Something I feel would have been more beneficial than hiking up the prices is the idea of having more graphic images on the packets. The proposed images include that of a smoker’s corpse in the morgue, which is of course extreme and controversial, hence this idea was rejected by the court as a violation of the consumer’s rights. But I happen to think that it is a consumer’s rights to know and see fully the reality of what they are buying into, doing to themselves, and what effect it will undoubtedly (not “maybe”) have on their body, it is not a lucky dip with which smoker doesn’t develop cancer, because regardless of cancer, all smokers will detriment and reduce their health and breathing capacity significantly. And rather than the packets saying “Smoking can kill you”, a more accurate summary would be “Smoking will kill you, sooner or later*” with the small-print “*Unless you get hit by a bus first”.

I’m also in full support of the idea discussed a while back in a BMJ article that postmortem/autopsy certificates should have a cause of death label ‘Smoking’, rather than just merely ‘lung cancer’ or similar, as some people develop these with no self-induced cause. It is already undeniable that smoking is the top cause of preventable death. So I leave you with that theme: prevention.

Smoking is preventable, as is the burden it has on the NHS, and the unavoidable health detriments it has on every smoker. Prevention is always better than cure, so I am not against the rising prices, but I am dubious as to its effectiveness on the socioeconomic groups they should be helping the most.