Economic drag: the staggering amount smoking costs the world

Planet Business: Facts, figures and trends from the world of business this week

Smoking cost the world economy more than €1.3 trillion in 2012

Smoking cost the world economy more than €1.3 trillion in 2012


In numbers: Economic drag

€1.3 trillion

Cost of smoking to the world economy in 2012, according to a new study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Cancer Society, which said the total spent on related medical costs amounted to 2 per cent of the world’s GDP.


Number of countries worldwide where the taxes on tobacco products exceed 75 per cent of the retail price is tax (yes, Ireland is among them). WHO is now calling on more countries to introduce similar levels of tax.

€1.6 billion

Estimated annual cost to the Irish economy of smoking, according to a report published last year by ICF International and DKM economic consultants.

Image of the week: Meanwhile, in Germany

What’s so funny?: German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble and economy minister Brigitte Zypries having a laugh. Photograph: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

As the world now looks to Germany to save the West, Europe’s largest economy carries on enjoying a period of relative sanity, notwithstanding the euro-related Merkel-bashing emerging from the White House. But what could finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble and newly-appointed economy minister Brigitte Zypries possibly be laughing about so very hard? Angela was in the room – it was the weekly cabinet meeting in the Chancellery building in Berlin – so it wouldn’t have been her. It couldn’t possibly be the man that one German newspaper dubbed a “Horror-Clown” could it? He would hate that. For the record, Zypries finds the last 10 days alarmierend – again, no translation necessary there.

The lexicon: Mirror trades

“Mirror trades” have been in the news this week courtesy of Deutsche Bank, which has been fined a total of €583 million by both US and British regulators for failing to detect and stop a Russian money laundering scheme that revolved around mirror trading. Between 2011 and 2015, a trading desk would purchase shares in big Russian companies through the bank’s Moscow office before a related party would sell identical shares in the same quantity at the same price through Deutsche Bank’s London branch. The cost of such transactions means money is often lost on mirror trades, but the point in this case was the rubles would be converted into dollars. This is not illegal, but as the US regulator said, it is “highly suggestive of financial crime”. The bank’s fines, incidentally, are in both dollars and sterling.

Getting to know: Lynden Scourfield

In his own mind, former HBOS banker Lynden Scourfield was once the “grand wizard”. To everybody else, he’s the man who defrauded its clients between 2003 and 2007, engaging in money laundering, conspiracy and a series of distinctly unpleasant activities. Scourfield (54) pleaded guilty last year to crimes dubbed “complex and sleazy” by prosecutors, while this week his business associate in the corrupt enterprise, David Mills, was convicted for his role in the scam. Scourfield, who worked in HBOS’s impaired assets division, would threaten to stop cashflow to struggling small businesses unless their owners hired a corrupt firm run by Mills that charged tens of thousands in fees. The businesses were run into the ground, while Mills splashed out on classy things such as personalised number plates and Scourfield was rewarded with “sexual entertainment”.

The list: CEOs on un-American Trump

1. Airbnb: Brian Chesky offered free housing to people stranded outside the US as a result of the executive order. “We must stand with those who are affected.”

2. Google: Sundar Pichai raised concerns about the fate of more than 100 Googlers and said it was “painful to see the personal cost” of the order.

3. Netflix: Trump’s move is “so un-American it pains us all”, said Reed Hastings – and not only that, it would make the US less, rather than more, safe.

4. Lyft: The ride-sharing company’s boss Logan Green said the order was “antithetical” to the core values of the US and signalled that Lyft would donate $1 million to civil rights body ACLU.

5. Starbucks: Howard Schultz, the man who once dared to ask customers not to bring guns into his stores, thanks, said the coffee chain would hire 10,000 refugees over five years in 75 countries.