Thank you smokers

? NZ Herald

When Winston Peters bribed the old farts with his Gold Card I suggested that the real heroes of our society were not the greedy old people who continually vote themselves more taxpayer largesse. rather it is smokers. They kill themselves off faster, don’t generally get to enjoy the pension and they also commit the ultimate sacrifice in modern society, that of voluntarily paying way more tax for the privilege of enjoying their chosen habit.

It is them who should get the Gold Card not Winston’s greedy pensioners.

A Treasury report has admitted that smoking saves the Government money because smokers die earlier and pay more in tobacco tax than their health problems cost.

The regulatory impact statement on tobacco taxes prepared ahead of the Budget said smokers’ shorter life expectancies reduced the need for superannuation and aged care.

“When the broader fiscal impacts of smoking are considered … smokers are probably already ‘paying their way’ in narrowly fiscal terms.”

In last week’s Budget, Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia introduced tobacco levies that will increase the price of a 20-pack of cigarettes to more than $20 in four years.

The charges would increase the Government’s tax take from tobacco from $1.3 billion to around $1.7 billion by 2016.

The Treasury document acknowledged that the revenue gathered in tobacco taxes already exceeded the health costs of smoking.

A University of Otago study in 2007 estimated that the direct cost of smoking to the Ministry of Health was $300 million to $350 million.