More lies from Labor. This time it’s Tanya Plibersek on Facebook.
Okay – so one more time:
The ABS does not measure or estimate the number of cigarettes consumed.
We have covered the $31.5 billion number before – but here goes again. Eric Crampton has discussed the $31.5 billion number in detail:
Oh please. What’s the source on the $32 billion? Almost certainly Collins & Lapsley, who found that the total costs of smoking in Australia were $32 billion. How much of that $32 billion was health? $318.4 million. Is that much much less than the aggregate tobacco excise tax take?
Here we have tangible costs divvied up by category (intangible costs of premature death and the like make up the bulk of the purported costs of tobacco and aren’t in this table). Note that we’ve disputed the alcohol figures rather strongly. But what do we see? By C&L’s figures, tobacco costs the Australian health system $318.4 million. That’s somewhat less than the figure claimed by the Australian Cancer Council, assuming that they’re quoted correctly.
Here is Nick Cater disputing the numbers from a couple of years ago:
The net cost of smoking to the health system is therefore $318.4 million, a figure that hardly makes a dent on the $8.85bn the government was expecting to collect from smokers this year, even without the additional revenue from the proposed excise increase.
The calculations get more incredible. The authors say absenteeism and workforce reduction costs the economy $5.75bn a year. A net loss of $8bn is attributed to a reduction of unpaid household labour. A dubious $3.6bn is included as the cost of resources used in the manufacture and distribution of tobacco products.
By far the largest and most speculative component is $19bn in “intangible costs”, the hypothetical cost of pain and suffering and the “valuation of life” — an estimate of the loss of productive capacity from a premature death.
The authors admit this costing “is the subject of considerable debate”. Former Treasury secretary Ken Henry dismissed this element as impossible to calculate in his 2010 tax review.
So we have Tanya Plibersek just recycling tired old lies and tired old talking points to justify crappy policy. The thing is this – if Labor had actual evidence their policy had actually reduced smoking we’d have seen it by now.