Sunday, February 28, 2010

On Leadership and Smoking

President Obama had his physical and was pronounced to be healthy overall.

Is anyone but me bothered that he continues to smoke?  Smoking contributes to the health-care crisis in this country.  Obama is the President who wants to bring us Health Care Reform.  It's just not sitting right with me.

Here is one estimate about the costs of smoking:

The data in this book are based on present value of loss for men and women who are smokers at the age of 24. One factor that is distinct in this study is the calculation of “quasi-external cost,” which the authors define as the cost of freedom of choice to the family members of smokers, including children who are nonsmokers. In their longitudinal analysis of lifetime smoking, the authors estimate that the social cost of smoking, which is a sum of purely private, quasi-external, and external costs (the latter determined by excise tax) for a 24-year-old person turns out to be $39.66 per pack of cigarettes. The cost to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is substantial. The quasi-external cost of smoking to the spouse of a 24-year-old who smokes comes to a staggering $28 billion. After considering these numbers and the amount of people who turn 24 each year and smoke, the authors of this book have predicted that the national external and quasi-external lifetime cost per year is $13.8 billion for females and $32.8 billion for males. Thus, with each new cohort of 24-year-old smokers in the United States there is an additional $204 billion of lifetime costs. These staggering expenses in light of the high number of smokers in the country make a convincing argument for rethinking the issue of public health policy making. Federal and state cigarette excise taxes have increased dramatically over the years. The calculations made by Sloan and his coauthors provide an analytical reason for such increases.

Have you ever known someone who "can't afford" basic things for themselves or their children?  Who can't make their utility payments or pay their court-ordered child support?  Who say they need public assitance such as food stamps to get by?  How do you feel when you find out these same people smoke?  You can go here to see the personal cost of smoking or use their calculator for the cost of cigarettes.  If I smoked 1 pack a day for the next 3 years, I would spend $4730 on cigarettes.

This post won't be popular with smokers.  If you are an individual who chooses to shorten your life with smoking, you live alone, you always smoke outside, and you never plan to use Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, more power to you.  Then then neither me nor anyone else will have to bear the consequences of your smoking.  Except maybe your relatives who will mourn your early demise.

Right now President Obama (like all of the Congressional representatives on both sides, whether they are for government health care or not) has government health care.  I'd be all for Health Care Reform that makes smokers pay more or get fewer benefits.  I'd be all for Obama paying out of pocket for his medical exam and tests today.  Because by choosing to smoke, you are putting yourself at risk.  People understand risk better when it has an immediate financial consequence to them rather than an murky distant threat of poor health.

President Obama, this is an area where you can lead many by your example.  Put down the cigarettes.  Get a nicotine patch, a therapist, an electronic "cigarette" that dispenses nicotine, or whatever you need.  But show people that they can stop smoking by doing it yourself.  It only makes sense when your the guy who wants to change how we do health care.

1 comment:

  1. Never understood the fascination.Smoked one at age 12 and took a 40+ year break. Yeah I was really surprised too, didn't seem to fit with the guy. Plus the first lady is outta the HMO field and she's tough so....oh well I'm no Obama fan as you probably picked up from Mikes.

    He half-ass supported the war and I could never vote for a war supporter. I voted for Paul in the primary, I disagree with everything else he stands for but the war was paramount and he opposed it. Stood his ground too, even when O'Reilly and Hannity and others questioned his patriotism ?

    Ok how did I go from Obama smoking to Ron Paul?