Public health experts have called for a ban on cigarette sales, declaring the government’s response to the coronavirus “farcical” given how many more people died annually from tobacco-related illnesses.
COVID-19 would be “unlikely to ever match the relentless and growing annual toll from tobacco smoking” and its spread was an “opportune time to move towards removing cigarettes from general retail sale”, according to analysis published in the latest issue of Tobacco Control, an international health journal.
Another one for the never let a good crisis go to waste basket.
But let’s think about this – smoking is mostly an internality not an externality. Now there may well be problems with second hand smoke – not trivial but not as dangerous as the public health lobby argues – and so-called third hand smoke simply caused laughter. The single largest cost of smoking is early death – as opposed to later death. That is a private cost. The public benefit of smoking is:
In its latest budget, update the government forecast tobacco excise receipts of $17.2 billion this financial year.
But I expect the anti-tobacco lobby to push their barrow at every opportunity.
I seems to me, however, that this sort of argument undermines the fight the fight against COVID-19.
The public health lobby has just undermined the benefit of the COVID-19 lock down:
In China, there have been just over 3300 COVID-19 deaths compared with approximately 1 million each year from tobacco. In Italy, which currently has the highest deaths per million of the population, there have been nearly 14,000 deaths from COVID-19, compared with 93,300 each year from tobacco
That will be a very small comfort to the millions of Australians who have lost their jobs in the last three weeks, the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that have gone broke, and the Gen Ys and Zs who are going to pay for it all.
Update: CL and I double-posted on this same topic. His post appears below.
A Chinese ‘flu is becoming a nanny-stater’s Nuremberg …
These latest two wannabe corona-starlets – Marita Hefler and Coral Gartner – are not medical practitioners, by the way. The important thing to remember is this: if Australian hospitals are coping well with COVID-19, don’t just thank nurses and doctors. Thank smokers too because they paid for it all. (HT: JC).