Cigarettes: A Huge Cost to Society
An Example of The Research Underlying
The Attorney General Litigation to Recover
Taxpayers' Money Spent on Tobacco Costs

         The 1994-1999 process to recover some tiny portion of the taxpayers' money that had been spent for decades on cigarette costs did not just happen. Pro-tobacco apologists used to allege that tobacco is a financial benefit to society!!

         Cost analysis research was involved in refuting that claim. This site reprints the October 1980 paper I wrote that led the way, showing over $130 billion dollars in damages to society from tobacco that year alone. My paper answered the taxpayer-friendly question, is some of your money missing (i.e., being spent on tobacco costs unbeknownst to you at the time?).

"Are You Missing $omething?"
26 Smoke Signals 4 (Oct 1980)

[July Smoke Signals quoted Newsman Paul Harvey, "We are not subsidizing
the tobacco industry, it is subsidizing us," then raised the question, Do you agree
with Paul Harvey, or is there another side? Here's one reply to that question:]

Dear Editor:

         In response to your July Question of the Month, the facts show that tobacco is an enormous drain on the country and contributes significantly to inflation:

     46 million employed smokers X 1/2 hour daily time spent smoking
     X $7.50 average pay/fringes X 260                                            =  $44,850,000,000
     340,000 tobacco deaths X $200,000 medical costs                    =    68,000,000,000
     :340,000 tobacco deaths X $20,000 life insurance                     =       6,800,000,000
     10,000 fire deaths X $30,000 property/other costs                    =          300,000,000
   88,000,000 sick days X $60 per day average pay/fringes            =       5,280,000,000
     34,000,000,000 smoke sensitive people X $120 medical costs   =      4,080,000,000
     300,000 premature pensions for widows X $4,200                      =       1,260,000,000

         In a two trillion [dollar] GNP economy, inflation of 12 percent would mean $240 billion. Tobacco abuse has destructive effects on productivity, to the extent that it is responsible for over half of inflation. It is subject to governmental control. The question is whether the government has the will to control it, rather than use methods that attack symptoms rather than causes. With the estimated $40 billion cost of alcoholism, over 2/3 of inflation is due to drug abuse in some form.

         Considering the small size of the tobacco industry, the nation could easily save tens of billions of dollars each year simply by paying tobacco farmers not to farm, as with some other farmers.

         Moreover, the above does not reflect future medical costs for psychiatric care for smokers, now that the American Psychiatric Association has recognized smoking as involving [mental] disorders. It took a long time to conclude that smoking is a disease, just as it took a long time to decide that alcoholism is a disease. The decisions on smoking as a mental problem are documented in the 1980 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

         In the "substance use disorders" category, "tobacco dependence" is now recognized. It is cited as "obviously widespread," i.e., "approximately 50 percent of smokers." This disorder involves smokers who try but fail to stop smoking; have a "serious physical disorder" known to be "exacerbated by tobacco use"; or are developing "tobacco withdrawal."

         In the "organic mental disorders" category, "tobacco organic mental disorder" is listed, and this is where "tobacco withdrawal" is cited. The Manual does not estimate the number of TOMD victims, but page 5 of the July issue (Smoke Signals) connotes 99.5 percent. The Manual includes smokers in the TOMD category if withdrawal symptoms occur within 24 hours, but most smokers have symptoms in two hours. The 24-hour guidance is therefore overwhelmingly comprehensive.

         To the extent that smokers are mentally disordered and dangerous to themselves, they need help. When they are dangerous to others (smoke-sensitive persons with heart or lung problems), they require help. Protection of and from such mentally disordered, dangerous persons will require a tremendous education effort involving medical personnel, the schools, mental division judges and court personnel, family members, and the public."

         Now in 1999 everyone (including Attorneys General and the tobacco defendants) agrees that tobacco is a cost drain on society. What a major change since 1980!! But the hatred for me for having written the paper that led to the litigation costing tobacco companies so much still continues.

         Nowadays I would add to my reference to the alcoholism issue, that it occurs almost exclusively among smokers, citing Hayes, et al., "Smoking prevalence among active alcholics approaches 90%," in "Alcoholism and Nicotine Dependence Treatment," 15 J Addictive Diseases 135 (1996). This occurs as tobacco is the No. 1 cause of disease, thus of suffering, hence smokers self-medicate with alcohol to mask the suffering. As smoking leads to much intense suffering, smokers are the ones doing the suicide, 90% of suicide is by smokers, data reported by Cowell and Hirst, "Mortality Differences Between Smokers and Nonsmokers" 32 Transactions Society Actuaries 185-261 (1980) Table 9, p 200, and Leistikow, et al., Analysis of Association between Smoking and Suicide, 15 J Addictive Diseases 141 (1996).

         I would also add that smoking had then in 1980 already been officially recognized by the government as a mental disorder -- listed as "tobacco use disorder" in the "mental disorders" section of the Department of Health and Human Services' International Classification of Disease, 9th edition (1980), p 231. Thomas A. Edison had alluded to one aspect of cigarettes' adverse impact on the brain as long ago as 1914. (Such data refutes the myth that smoking is merely a "habit," but due to the tobacco lobby assault on me, that fact is concealed from the public. One is reminded of the flat-earth myth! how widely it'd be believed if the educated people who knew the truth had been persecuted and suppressed to conceal the truth from the public.)

         I would also add the costs for

         a. care of AIDS patients and drug abusers, pursuant to studies showing this, Newell, et al., AIDS Risk Factors, 14 Preventive Medicine 81-91 (1985); Schechter, et al., Vancouver AIDS Study, 133 Can Med Assn J 286-292 (1985); Halsey, et al., AIDS & Smoking in Haitian Women, 267 J Am Med Ass'n 2062-2066 (1992), and Watstein, The AIDS Dictionary (NY: Facts on File, Inc, 1998), p 253;

         b. 90% of the prison and criminal system, as e.g., mothers smoking has a role in leading to it and 90% of criminals are smokers, as long previously cited by numerous analysts and sources including but not limited to Jackson (1854), Hodgkin (1857), Eillis (1901), Lindsay (1914), Torrance (1916), Brum (1924), Danis (1925), Healy and Bonner (1926), Crane, Dawson, Pollock and Shaw (1931), Wood (1944), Doughty (1989), McKinney (1991) -- data suppressed from the public and not acted on in the profession due to the fear among civil servants to cite/utilize such data in any meaningful way;

         c. and other aspects, cigarettes' link to divorce, SIDS, miscarriage and abortion, also much reported in medical journals, aspects which are family tragedies as well as costly. The terrorism directed against people such as me, means that such data is almost totally suppressed from public knowledge.

         Data from the office of Michigan Governor John Engler says tobacco has a serious adverse impact on Michigan.

         When I wrote the above analysis in July 1980, to be published in October, my intention was for more than getting cost recovery. I intended that the laws be enforced, e.g., the ones concerning illegal sales to children, the ones concerning deleterious products, and the mental health laws against people's behavior posing a danger to themselves and others, etc.

         I am disappointed that two decades have gone by, yet the tobacco "holocaust" (the 1971 term used by the Royal Society of Physicians in its book Smoking and Health Now (London: Pitman Medical and Scientific Pub Co, 1971), p 9, to refer to the then mere 27,500 cigarette-caused deaths) is still in process. due to tobacco lobby power at terrorizing law enforcers such as me, the death rate is much higher, and the protective laws remain unenforced.

         If you as a taxpayer want to not keep paying for such things, nor to be, e.g., a crime or drunk driving victim (as 90% of this is done by smokers, with nonsmokers often being the victims), in your own personal best interest, you should write to your legislators (senators and representatives) asking for them to
         (a) demand enforcement of the law, and
         (b) hold hearings on why the cigarette control law has not been enforced, so the tobacco lobby terrorism of the police to prevent enforcement will be revealed by witnesses including but not limited to myself (I am not the only government official gotten rid of at tobacco lobby behest). The life you save may be your own.