No thanks for smok­ing

Bangkok Post - - OPINION -

Felix Qui in his Sept 16 let­ter, “Sin (taxes) of poor,” has cho­sen to sup­port his ar­gu­ment with some ill-cho­sen ex­am­ples. As far as I am aware, read­ing clas­si­cal lit­er­a­ture is not detri­men­tal to health. Smok­ing is, and in the UK the cost of treat­ing smok­ing-re­lated dis­eases is enor­mous. It is only fair that smok­ers should con­trib­ute to those costs since the dan­gers of their pur­suit have been doc­u­mented for years. By what mech­a­nism should state health ser­vices be with­held from such peo­ple?

A heavy tax on cig­a­rettes seems to me to be rather more sen­si­ble than an im­prac­ti­cal, and pos­si­bly ar­bi­trary sys­tem of med­i­cal dis­crim­i­na­tion. The al­ter­na­tive is to raise taxes gen­er­ally, but then those who live healthy life­styles will com­plain they are sub­si­dis­ing those who do not. If Felix Qui’s an­swer is the same as that of some Amer­i­can Repub­li­cans on the ex­treme Right, who ad­vo­cate that peo­ple go with­out any state-funded health ser­vice, the poor would be the first to suf­fer, whether they are smok­ers or not.

AN­DREW STE­WART

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