The Cost Of Smoking


Sir, - David Andrews's article, "Deaths fail to register as deadly addiction continues" (The Irish Times, July 28th) beggars belief! Let me give a few examples of his non-sequiturs, obfuscation and errors.

He says, "One can only have sympathy for those who cannot 'kick' the \ habit." Excuse me, but we are talking about grown-ups here who know what they are doing and are aware of the consequences, yet continue to do it. They are not victims, but willing self-abusers.

He quotes the cost to the State of smoking as £1.6 billion a year. But if he wants to talk money, cost is meaningless without also quoting the gain to the State in terms of cigarette taxes and pensioners' early deaths. Not only does he ignore the gain, but he excoriates the tobacco company Philip Morris for daring to do quantify it. Evidently he prefers this information to remain hidden because it more than nullifies his cost argument.

Mr Andrews seems to have a penchant for hiding inconvenient information. He wants to rig the Consumer Price Index by removing cigarettes, so as to impose more punishing taxes while hiding the fact that these will be inflationary. Oh, and meanwhile he wants to transfer even more money from smokers to the State! He says: "Where a company has knowingly sold a product that kills, it should be made responsible for this terrible action." He also cites road deaths, but then fails to make the connection: make car manufacturers responsible when cars crash and kill people. Same for manufacturers of kitchen knives, ladders, swimming pools, bricks, hammers and countless others products that are known to kill.

He says: "Passive smoking is...more harmful than asbestos." Balderdash. A single inhalation of asbestos fibre can damage lungs sufficiently to kill in later life. Nobody pretends passive smoking is as deadly as that.

Was a man of this stunning intellect ever really a Minister? - Yours, etc.,

Tony Allwright, Killiney, Co Dublin.