In the US, the 20% of adult smokers will be outraged by this infringement on freedom. But in India (one of the poorest nations on the planet), where half of the men and 21% of women smoke, they’ve got an epidemic and they need to do something about it.
- The Indian Government says 800,000 Indians a year die from smoking-related diseases. (Damn! Just consider the medical costs!)
- The World Health Organisation said the move would help cut India’s smoking-related deaths.
- Movie-makers said the move was an infringement of artistic expression and that films were the wrong target in the drive to curb smoking.
But the government is standing by its decision and has the support of national and global health organizations.
Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said: “More and more youngsters and women are taking up tobacco use.”
Last year, smoking was banned in public places in India and a ban imposed on tobacco firms’ advertising in and sponsoring of sporting events.
Now the thing that came to my mind after reading this information was, how much is smoking costing India – in both real dollars and opportunity cost? Well, let’s see.
- The population of India as of 3/1/2001 was 1,027,015,247 (Males 531,277,078 / Females 495,738,169).
- If each smoker consumed one pack a day, based on the numbers stated above that would equal 369,743,554 packs a day (US population is only 300 million).
- If each pack cost only $.10, that equals $37 million US per day or $13.5 BILLION US dollars per year. (The average price of a pack in the US is $3.80.)
- This means Indians spend as much on cigarettes annually as the combined GDP of the 39 smallest economies on earth.
And that is only the direct expenditure on cigarettes. I can’t imagine how much is spent on medical care, lost productivity from missing work due to illness, funerals, not to mention all of the other factors.
So, if Indians have the kind of luxury cash to spend on smoking, why do they need so much foreign aid? According to the CATO Institute, “India has received more foreign aid than any other developing nation since the end of World War II–estimated at almost $55 billion …”
It seems to me that the aggregate cost of smoking makes it the world’s worst vice. If all of the resources that go into producing tobacco were shifted towards food and textiles, I’d be surprised if a single person on the planet went unfed, unclothed, or unsheltered.
Now thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sick.