Treating smokers costs the NHS in England £2.7bn a year, compared with £1.7bn a decade ago, it was said recently.
Except that there's strong evidence that the best financial value to the nation is if smokers really go for it, feed the Inland Revenue's coffers with excise duty, get lung cancer and die quickly at 65 before they cost us a packet in social care in old age.
Indeed. Tobacco duty alone dwarfs even the mightiest manipulations by tobacco control freaks, £8.1bn according to a recent House of Lords question to parliamentary treasury secretary Lord Myners, and that figure doesn't include notional savings in palliative care. You know, those costs which won't be incurred because all us smokers die so very young as the anti-smoking loons tell us on a daily basis.
This outbreak of common sense is becoming a bit of a summer theme with regards the economics of alternative lifestyles, after former government health adviser Julian LeGrand admitted the same just a fortnight ago.
"It is true that, on the whole, healthy people cost the National Health Service, and indeed the pensions sector, rather more than unhealthy people." [mp3 sound file below]
See, this is the problem when a product is disproportionately taxed over a long period of time. No matter how many so-called costs are lumped onto the debit side of the smoking equation, they are always going to be outweighed by the credit side, in the form of punitive sin taxes which the righteous have inflicted for decades.
Likewise, if ASH and their colleagues produce statistics exaggerating the early deaths of smokers, a statistician is quite within his rights to use the same figures to assess cost savings to the NHS as a result.
Hoist by one's own petard, I believe it is termed.
Blastland comes to a conclusion which is eminently sensible.
Does that mean we should encourage smoking? Hardly. But it might mean we should get another argument, for example that a smoking habit can be smelly and dirty, that other people don't like it, that it's about the worst thing you can do for your health short of running under a bus, and that maybe other people who love you care about you not killing yourself early and you should think about their interests too.
Which, of course, are the real reasons behind the irrational and hysterical hatred towards smokers. We know this, they know this, it's just that such arguments aren't very compelling when it comes to encouraging the bullying of smokers by the general public.
And that really is the sum of it. Rather than produce truthful data, the hugely pharma-funded tobacco control lobby would prefer to use junk science, fraudulent statistics, bullying, and threats to promote their agenda, rather than hold an honest and inclusive debate.
All we freedom-lovers can do is keep highlighting the propaganda, emotive brow-beating, and downright lies, because however shrill the righteous doom-laden voice becomes, the truth is always on our side, as is the moral high ground.