Monday, 22 November 2010

ASH Scotland's barmy tax calculations reported again

Today's Edinburgh Evening News sees this report, which doesn't appear online:
Smoking VAT row
The health benefits of a tobacco-free society would outweigh the VAT paid by cigarette firms, a city charity has said. 
Many argue that tax paid on tobacco is irreplaceable but ASH Scotland said smoking costs the country £1.1 billion, more than the VAT received. 
A few points here.

1, I think 'VAT paid by cigarette firms' should read 'duty'.
2, This story came out nearly two weeks ago, so why is it being slipped into the middle of the Edinburgh Evening News (and inaccurately too)?
3, Has ASH Scotland asked for a reprint? Do they really believe banning tobacco would save the country money? Or is it just the Evening News trying to fill up space?

Who are these people? Quite apart from the objections that have already been raised about these so-called calculations, there is a clear assumption that anyone who stops smoking will go on to adopt a healthier lifestyle, without developing any other habits that might cost the health service dear. People who give up smoking will take to wholesome diets and take lots of exercise (not that such choices are a guarantee of a wholesome, painless or inexpensive end), and they won't be tempted by any other kind of drug, or even excessive eating.

The original calculation by ASH Scotland (costs of smoking amount to £1.1 billion as against income of £940 million) is a shameless attempt to make the economic costs add up to more than the economic gains of smoking, based on speculation, flawed reasoning and guesswork.

No comments: