Wednesday 1 September 2010

A frank admission

From The Telegraph:

'People should smoke and drink more’, says Russian finance minister

Russia’s finance minister has told people to smoke and drink more, explaining that higher consumption would help lift tax revenues for spending on social services.

Speaking as the Russian government announces plan to raise duty on alcohol and cigarettes, Alexei Kudrin said that by smoking a pack, “you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates”.

“People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state,” he told the Interfax news agency.

It's rare to see this truism expressed so candidly, but the minister is only saying what every economist and historian already knows. He is well aware that raising the price of a pack of cigarettes from 85p to 95p will have little, if any, effect on smoking rates, and he doesn't bother pretending that tax rises are designed for anything other than raising money. Nor does he go along with the Western fallacy that drinkers and smokers are a drain on the economy.

The Russians are gloriously off-message when it comes to public health spin-doctoring, and who can blame them?


Anonymous said...

Chris yet again,you find main points,I may yet have to move to the freest country and it sure aint AMERIKKKA!

bnzss said...

When I read this headline I was full of hope...

Well...nearly right. But still nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Chris this story goes right to the hilt of yours......I gather the russian said this in reference to this quote from the greek politician.

Greeks told to stub out to save the economy
Posted Wed Sep 1, 2010 9:53pm AEST

Greeks are being asked to quit smoking to help save their country's debt-stricken economy.

More than a year after a previous attempt was simply ignored, the socialist government has taken the unprecedented step of not only announcing a blanket ban on smoking in public places but stiff fines for those who flout the law.

Businesses now face penalties of up to $14,000.

Greeks are the heaviest smokers in Europe and when launching the campaign, prime minister George Papandreou, an avid non-smoker himself, appealed to the patriotism of Greeks.

He said quitting the habit would not only improve Greeks' health, but help the crisis-hit economy by curbing the effect of smoking-related diseases on the nation's over-stretched public health system.

Anonymous said...

Papandreou is wrong (and he probably knows it) and Kudrin is correct. All investigations into the consumption of health resources show, even without taking into account tobacco taxes and reduced pension payments, that the healthy consume most. Smokers and the obese tend to die earlier and so do not suffer the expensive diseases of old age. This is getting to be an even bigger problem as average life expectancy gets to 80 and more people live with dementia. Anti tobacco/alcohol/food/etc pressure groups look at only one side of the equation. They conveniently forget that everybody eventually dies; and that te older they are, the more likely it is that death will be preceded by a long period of ill health.

Anonymous said...

Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, California, USA, ran a story several weeks ago applauding the loss of close to a billion dollars in tobacco and tobacco related sales tax revenue across the ridiculously smoke-banned state. "Health experts" in California state government said this is a very wonderful result of the war on smokers. Meantime the California state government continues it's plunge into red-ink and bankruptcy along with the most flagrantly smoke-banned cities state-wide. So apparently, in the "news", this is said as a wonderful thing. I no longer have the link but it was in the Sacramento Bee newspaper less than one month ago.

jredheadgirl said...

Well, over here in the States we know for a fact that smokers put way more $$$$ in then they take out:

"Harvard Professor Kip Viscusi has repeatedly demonstrated that smokers already pay more in excise taxes than the social costs of their habits. Even before the MSA,"

Fredrik Eich said...

Cuba has stopped subsiding cigarettes for the over 55's.. I believe that life expectancy in Cuba is only marginally lower than the UK or US. But it's lung cancer rates are much lower @ ~35/100000 but not as low as Mexico @ ~5/100000. But that's from memory, I would have to check ...

Subsidised booze would be even better.
Long live Cuba!

Macheath said...

China's Gong'an county has gone one better, if this story from May 2009 is anything to go by.