Have a fag, it won’t cost you?

On the Salisbury Review’s website Dalrymple proclaims his opposition to smoking, but also to dishonesty:

I was startled by a figure in a recent article in the British Medical Journal titled How the tobacco industry refuses to die. It was a Venn diagram in which the costs and benefits of smoking in the UK were displayed. On the benefits side was a smaller grey circle marked £9.5 billion. On the costs side was a vividly multi-coloured circle marked £12.9 billion.

The text of the article, however, said that the Exchequer received £10 billion in excise duty on cigarettes and a further £2 billion in VAT on cigarettes. British American Tobacco paid £1.45 billion in taxes, and if Imperial Tobacco paid taxes pro rata according to its profits, it would pay £0.7 billion. In other words, the figure in the benefits circle should have been at least £14.15 billion. This does not include the benefits of employment by the industry and – horrible to relate – the reduction in pensions that have to be paid to those who die early as a result of smoking. This would be an unpleasant figure to calculate, but if we are talking of economic costs and benefits it ought to have been included.

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