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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Easy Cash

I don't smoke. Never have, never will. Yet I was flabbergasted, yes, flabbergasted, to find out that NHS bosses in Dundee are actually going to pay 1800 people nearly £50 a month to give up.

Are you fucking kidding me!?

Pay people to stop smoking?

Has the world suddenly shifted on it's axis slightly?
Have I woken up in another dimension?
Is this the Twilight Zone?

Why don't we just give Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty a couple of grand to quit smack, or lob some cash at Chris Langham if he gives up kiddie porn?!

Everyone knows the health risks that you run by smoking, and everyone knows that smoking related conditions are a fucking HUGE burden on the NHS. If you're aware of all this, yet wish to continue puffing away, by all means do so, but I don't see why my hard earned tax cash should be used to bail you out. Fuck that.

This leads into a whole other Pandora's Box of issues.
Should you be refused treatment if you continue to behave in a manner detrimental to your health? It's a bit of a gray area, but broadly speaking, yes.

Drank your life away and fucked your liver? Ok, here's a new one. Stop drinking.
Smoked 60 a day? Fine, here's your treatment. Give up.

It's not rocket science. If it causes an injury every time you bang your head off a wall, don't bang your head off a wall. If it makes you worse every time you smoke, don't smoke.


I know you like banging your head off walls, but I'll give you £12.50 a week if you don't do it.

Get real.


Jaggy said...

I read that article as well and I have mixed feeling about it.

Yes I know that smoking related illnesses are a significant burden on the NHS but smokers taxes also fund it to a greater extent than they cost. They basically make a profit from smokers.

That's not to say that they should be encouraging more of them.

The sort of people who would be swayed by an extra £12.50 in extra cash, supplemented by the £35 a week they would normally be spending on fags are not the sort of people who will be swayed by other means.

What I mean by that is, it's the skint dole scroungers that they're aiming at here. And if it costs £12.50 a week for 6 months to improve their health, and possibly get them working again, earning taxes for the country, then it may well be money well spent.

Lets not forget, they will also be expected to attend classes and to take a CO breath test to prove they're not smoking in order to qualify for the cash.

As an ex-smoker I know the difficulties of giving up. I didn't try the gums, patches, hypnotherapy and many other wonder cures. I went cold turkey and used good old fashioned will-power. And I fear that may be the stumbling block of this scheme.

Lets be honest, Mr money bags smoker in his BMW is not going to give a fuck about £12.50 and will carry on regardless. Different tactics are needed for different circumstances.

Inchy said...

So you're saying the smoking, in the context of the NHS's finances, is a good thing?!

Whichever way you look at it, however much it costs, I'm not comfortable handing out taxpayer's money to people suffering from a self inflicted addiction.

What are we saying? Your own health isn't motivation enough for you, but some cash is?

Jaggy said...

I wouldn't say it was a good thing, but at least it's paid for. Ideally the resources wouldn't have to be so big.

Yes, it's self inflicted but telling people "I told you so" once they've got lung cancer is not the way forward. Leaflets and TV ads do nothing to influence these people.

They will be offered grocery vouchers, which can't be redeemed against fags or booze up to the value of £150 over 6 months conditional on their breath test showing that they haven't smoked.

In the end, that's peanuts compared to the price of a lung transplant, and there's only so many lungs to go around.

Inchy said...

So let me get this straight. You're saying that there is a section of the community who won't take any notice of the health risks and who cannot or will not stop due to self preservation.

If that's the case, why are tobacco products still on sale in the UK?

Don't hit me with the tax answer. If that's what you believe then we'd just as well start selling heroin from government approved outlets and sell even cheaper alcohol in the supermarkets.

What's the priority? Tax or health?

Jaggy said...

Absolutely, I know smokers who cough themselves breathless every morning. Health is not a concern, that's the very nature of an addiction.

Tobacco products are still on sale because to ban them outright is not in the nature of a so-called free country. There is already "Fags will kill you" signage all over packets but the government has a dilemma, make everyone give up and lose tax bucks, or keep smokers smoking and make money.

It's the same with petrol taxes, they launch initiatives to get us out of our cars and to use bikes and public transport instead, but at the same time, the less petrol we use, the less taxes they rake in.

The government likes to be seen to be doing it's bit, but in reality, the status quo does them just fine.

Helga Hansen said...

I think Jaggy has hit the nail on the head there - the government has to be seen to be doing something, but at the same time they know they will be financially f*cked if everyone stopped smoking, drinking and started riding their bikes.

Then you can bet we'd have to get a bicycle licence and tax and MOT our bikes...

Steve said...

I find work is detrimental to my health. Wonder if they'd pay me to stop doing it?

Roman Empress said...

Why you're not minister for Social Policy is anyone's guess Inchy.

Inchy said...

I had wondered that myself. I feel my true calling beckons me .