Day: September 24, 2014

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

10:03 – Barbara is due back sometime tomorrow, so I need to spend some time today getting the place cleaned up.

Here’s an argument I made 25 years ago, just when the federal government started to get serious about attacking tobacco companies and smokers. The truth about smoking – it saves the public purse a lot of money Logically, the government didn’t have a leg to stand on. If they were wrong about tobacco use adversely affecting the health of smokers, there were obviously no grounds to attack tobacco companies and smokers. If they were right, there were again no grounds to attack tobacco companies and smokers. If smokers indeed suffered early mortality, that meant they paid into Social Security much more than they could expect to receive, so non-smokers and the Social Security trust fund were the beneficiaries of those smokers’ actions. Back when insurance companies were still run by actuaries, which is to say rationally, people who smoked a pack a day or more of cigarettes paid slightly more for life insurance, just enough to take their expected earlier mortality into account. But smokers paid no more for health insurance than non-smokers (and should have paid less) because insurance companies understood that heavy smokers tended to die not only sooner but more suddenly than non-smokers, of illnesses that killed quickly and (from the health insurance company perspective) cheaply. If the US government acted rationally, they’d be encouraging everyone to smoke as much as they wanted to.

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