Moving unreferenced text from the article page here. Diane Farsetta 10:23, 12 February 2008 (EST)
This was an argument where the tobacco industry was often caught in cleft stick -- to admit social costs led to regulation, while to deny them were ridiculous. Either way their claims were unconvincing or entirely fallacious. However the social cost argument also gave problems to the anti-smoking activists.
As a result, this generated many wealthy academic economist through the consulting fees they charged for conducting media briefings, making lecture circuits, writing reports, and appearing as witnesses in legislative hearings.
In its most crude form, the tobacco industry was saying that smokers subsidised the community. Despite greater ill-health and absenteeism, they:
- paid special excise and other taxes on each packet of cigarettes, which more than compensated the government for any increased health costs
- died earlier than average, and therefore weren't a burden on the society in their old age.
The anti-smoking lobby countered this with a social cost argument, pointing out that:
- the beneficial contributions to a society should be measured in life-years of happiness and good-health, not in dollar recovered through taxation.
- hospitalisation, aged-care and funeral bills weren't the only costs that ill-health and premature death imposed upon a community.
- When the worker died early, the family was often left poverty-struck and dependent on government hand-outs.
- Social outcomes of poverty and single-parent families are not measurable in dollars
- etc. etc.