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Health Care Costs for Smokers Essay

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Updated: Apr 6th, 2019


The population of smokers is increasing rapidly hence there is increase in smoking-related diseases. This increase has greatly made annual spending on health care costs to be high and most people are debating if smokers should pay for their own medical expenses acquired from smoke-related diseases.

This paper discusses the issue of smokers being allocated extra costs for their own health care costs. It will compare alcohol-related diseases with smoking-related diseases and also higher tobacco tax which have been imposed on smokers.

It also discusses the diseases which passive smokers acquire and their expenses. It will compare the costs which smokers and nonsmokers will spend on health care in their lifetimes.


Even though smoking cessation is favourable from the public health viewpoint, its effects relative to the expenses of health care on smoke-related diseases are still an issue. Certainly, smokers are vulnerable to more diseases than nonsmokers, but nonsmokers may acquire higher expenses of health care at advanced ages since they live for a longer time.

Even if smokers acquire more health expenses, these are made equal by taxes on tobacco and through less years which smokers live, therefore less use of their pensions and health care costs at nursing homes. If only medical costs are considered, the longer life expectancy of people who does not smoke is above expected spending allocated for them.

From some studies, alcohol brings about higher risk of diseases than smoking and the government should treat both smoking and alcohol rights the same. Tobacco taxes are higher and these taxes should be used to pay for health care costs for smokers.


Higher Tobacco taxes

Some of the smokers have the same viewpoint that the current level of taxes imposed on the tobacco is high, 68%, and most of them, 59%, are in agreement for the increase of the tobacco tax if it is intended to support their medical costs (Wilson et al., 2010, p.168).

The current high tobacco tax is efficient if it is designed to compensate for expenses they put on non-smokers, these are external expenditures or spill over outcomes, or it increases the expenses of smokers to pay for the consequence which incomplete information has on their decision regarding the internal expenses.

Smokers have considered the current tax unrealistic since it is above some sensible estimates of the social expenses of smoking and almost half of the smokers seem to have decided to get involved in smoking as they have sufficient information about health risks.

For smokers who did not possess enough information when they were making the decisions, better education and laws could be more useful market corrections and possess lesser adverse financial effects than a tax.

Equality is an essential reflection in the assessment of the tax suggestions, this matter as been brought forward in regard to tobacco taxes in some other reviews. The tobacco taxes are not really reasonable since it inflict greater taxes on smokers than on nonsmokers of similar earnings.

The tobacco tax can be appropriate if it pays for loads which they impose on nonsmokers or since smokers engage in smoking habits without having sufficient information to assess the medical expenses. It can be considered that allocated tax income will be used for improving cessation facilities, which will create smoke cessation cheaper and more probably to be effective (Wilson et al., 2010).

The actual issue here is not hazardous behaviour as such but the verdict to fund it with taxpayers’ money. The issue of smokers to pay more for their health care should be resisted fully. For instance, a smoker, a driver, a drunkard, or a sky diver who has gotten wounded or acquired a disease due to the conduct which he or she willingly engaged in. T

hen the government should not pick up only the smokers. If everyone is authentically displeased concerning that, they should fight to throw out the public health cover plans that support financially risky activities.

Passive Smoking

Extended and recurring contact on nonsmokers to passive smoke can contribute greatly in the growth and advancement of atherosclerosis accompanied with cardiovascular event (Kato et al., 2006). Bearing in mind effects of passive smoking as outer expenses, the available tax on tobacco should be used to pay for the outer expenses of smoking.

Accessible evidence proposes that several smokers will not be discouraged by the higher tax. Consequently, most spouses and children of undiscouraged smokers will not have any advantage from decrease of effects of passive smoking, but will be punished since the tax will decrease their non-refundable domestic income.

For this instance, the tax carries out what was not designed to perform. The studies in United States have approximated that around $5.5 billion is used annually for health care for diseases in nonsmokers attributable to contact to passive smoking (Jha & Chaloupka, 1999).

Due to the expenses of other diseases, most nonsmokers have more expenses on health care, in part since these expenses raise with age. The costs for the combined population and for the group of nonsmoking turn almost similar and for the nonsmoking people were still the least (Jha & Chaloupka, 1999).

The risk for the diseases which are not associated with smoking is reflected as same for both smokers and nonsmokers, but it should be noted that nonsmokers live for a longer period than smokers and hence acquire higher costs because of those diseases, mostly in old age, when the expenses are uppermost.

When put together, the sum expenses for both male and women nonsmokers are 8% and 4% more, respectively, than for a combined group, while for smokers the sum expenses are 7% and 12% lesser (Herzlinger, 2009, p.121).

For the above illustration, it can be pointed out which nonsmokers and smokers have the same risks of diseases and even nonsmokers may spend more in health care than smokers because they live longer than smokers.

Related Factors

According to Testino (2011, p.316), “up to 50-75% of cases of Oesophageal cancer in both men and women are attributable to the consumption of alcohol. Chronic alcohol consumption is frequently associated with secondary motility disorders and lower Oesophageal sphincter tone alteration”.

Another factor which should be considered is other causes of diseases closely related to smoking like alcohol. Individual and economic expenses related with alcohol consumption in 2010 added up to an estimated $6.07 billion or $1045 per individual in Minnesota (Dean, 2011).

While the spending for tobacco-related diseases in the same area were $4 billion annually. This showed higher costs of alcohol-related diseases than the costs of tobacco-related diseases; therefore the government should also evaluate these expenses before concluding on the subject matter.

Health care costs for medical effects of consumption of alcohol and its cure, prevention, and assistance for consumption of alcohol illnesses add up to $1036 million.

From the above discussion, it can be noted that alcohol contributes to higher spending of government budget than smoking; therefore it will be inappropriate to single out smoking in health care cover. Alcohol also contributes to several diseases just like smoking and same or more costs are used in alcohol than smoking-related diseases.


It will be unwise for the government to impose extra medical costs for smokers. Evidently smokers are probably to use less healthcare costs than nonsmokers because nonsmokers live longer and they are vulnerable to the old age diseases.

Passive smokers also have equal medical costs like smokers since they have higher risk of acquiring smoking-related diseases. Alcohol and other factors also are attributable to several diseases just like smoking which use a lot of government spending; hence smoking should not be singled out when budgeting for health care costs.

If most of the people stop smoking, obviously there will be enough savings in medical expenses, but only in the short run.


Dean, P. (2011). The Minnesota Plan for Nonsmoking and Health. Journal of Public Health Policy , 7(3): 300-313.

Herzlinger, R. (2009). Market-driven health care: who wins, who loses in the transformation of America’s largest service industry. New York: Perseus Books.

Jha, P., & Chaloupka, F. (1999). Curbing the epidemic: governments and the economics of tobacco control. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications.

Kato, T. (2006). Short-term passive smoking causes endothelial dysfunction via oxidative stress in nonsmokers. Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol , 84: 523-529.

Persaud, R. (2005). Smokers’ rights to health care. Journal of medical ethics, 1995; , 21: 281-287.

Testino, G. (2011). The Burden of Cancer Attributable to Alcohol Consumption. Mædica – a Journal of Clinical Medicine , 6(4): 313-320.

Wilson, N. (2010). Characteristics of smoker support for increasing a dedicated tobacco tax: National survey data from New Zealand. Nicotine & Tobacco Research , 12(2): 168–173.

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