Number crunching tobacco tax revenue
From Lords Hansard:Lord Laird To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they raised in tobacco-related taxes in 2006—07.
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Total tobacco duty received by the Exchequer in 2006-07 was £8,149 million and is published in the National Statistics Tobacco bulletin available (here).
So, £8.1 billion, or a rounded 1.4% of total central government spending. What does that pay for?
Operating costs of the Royal Navy, which I am not going to forego the opportunity to call the Senior Service - £7.6bn. I'm struggling to come up with other suitable puns for other areas of spending, which is a shame.
Or operating costs of the RAF - £7.6bn
Or Policing - £6.7bn plus most of border control - £1.46bn
Or DEFRA and the F&CO (Including Consulates, Embassies and Viceroys...) with £1.1bn left over.
And as Mark Wadsworth points out in the comments, it doesn't end there.
It's £8 billion and then some - don't forget the VAT and the PAYE/corporation tax that tobacco companies and retailers pay as well, so a conservative estimate it more like £12 billion, or possibly £16, to which you can add £12 billion for old-age pensions foregone due to earlier deaths.
The BBC omitted this side of the smoker balance sheet when reporting the British Heart Foundation's dodgy mathematics recently.
Smoking disease costs NHS £5bn
Compared with £24bn-£28bn income from smokers? Peanuts surely.
Perhaps the calculators, which the £4m that government paid the BHF last year to bash smokers might have helped buy, packed up.
It might be worth smokers remembering this before taking part in their annual London to Brighton bike ride. You wouldn't want to raise thousands for them, only for the money to be sloppily accounted for, and any injury you sustained during the ride being portrayed as a drain on the health service, now would you?
Analogically-speaking, of course.