Courtesy of Dick Puddlecote and a commenter on his post "Tears Of A Righteous Crocodile", I reproduce the commenter's entry (not sure if this breaches blogging etiquette) - but I feel this commenter's remarks need repeating (it does not, at the time of writing appear, but no doubt will):
"Letter to ASH
Dear Mr Reed,
I have just read your pamphlet,
“The Effects of Increasing Tobacco Taxation: A Cost Benefit and Public Finances Analysis”
and I am not sure what to say to you. You see, I am a well educated person,13 O levels, 4 A levels, Degree (in law, not one of these pathetic namby pamby degrees one can get nowadays), and a postgraduate certificate, as well as years of real life experience. I have learned over the years, and it is certainly a requirement of my profession as a solicitor of the supreme court of England and Wales, that it is always best that I write in measured and sensible terms. Having said all of this I cannot bring myself not to tell you that your pamphlet is one of the biggest piles of steaming shit that I have ever read. And don’t please forget that the shit I have read as a lawyer over the years is very shit indeed.
What immediately gets my goat is that you say:
Savings to the National Health Service - in 2006, £2.7 billion was spent by the
NHS on treatment of smoking-related diseases in England. As the risk of developing
diseases falls (due to lower smoking prevalence and decreasing risks for ex-smokers),
so would the costs of treatment.
I think that honesty in preparing a report like this is the fundamental benchmark of any competent author. But, as always seems to be the case, you have neglected to mention that the tax take from smokers massively outweighs the amount you say it costs to treat “smoking related disease”. Why do you never say this? Why does ASH never, ever, refer to this? Is it because you think that the people for whom, you prepare these ridiculous reports are so stupid and gullible that they won’t notice the omission? Why do you make such incomplete and essentially dishonest statements? Perhaps you will be kind enough to tell me. Likely, not.
It is an incontrovertible fact that the treasury is a massive net beneficiary from smokers. Why is it that you and your kind are so disingenuous that you can’t say this, ever?
Anecdotes are not evidence of a trend or evidence of reality. But, ASH seems happy to use them whenever it suits, so let me give you an anecdote of my own. I grew up in a small bungalow. We lived with my grandmother as well as my mother as mum couldn’t affords to live on her own, dad having left when we were toddlers. We lived with my nan who smoked 40 cigarettes each day, without fail. We had fag ash in our mashed potato, since she was “old school” and always had a fag hanging out of her mouth with at least an inch of ash on the end. Guess what? Three brothers, we were. One qualified as a lawyer, 16 stone of muscle and aggression who has played rugby for 25 years. The second, now a police sergeant, who spent 16 years in the Army, fit as a butcher’s dog for his whole life, runs marathons. The third, a little less athletic, but highly intelligent and the youngest ever branch manager of a high street building society. Clearly we have all been traumatised by the fact that our nan was a smoker. By the way, none of us has felt the need to see a doctor in over 20 years.
Why you people cannot see the basic truth that increasing tobacco taxation will a) affect the poorest in society the most, b) lead to more tobacco smuggling, is beyond me. It really isn’t rocket science. People who smoke will buy their tobacco come what may. Anything you propose will make absolutely no difference. Why are you so thick that you can’t see this? The fact that you think anyone will be deterred by a 30p rise in the cost of a packet of cigarettes shows that you have no idea what you are dealing with.
I note that you mention that people would live longer if tobacco was more expensive. The only benefit you appear to glean from this is more tax for the state from people who have probably already paid tax for all of their lives, and significantly more than the average given that they have paid the duty on their tobacco products. Christ on a bike. When will the hectoring, nannying, condescending, “ we know better than you” class” of apparent “academics” realise that we do not want to be working until we die at our desks, or sitting in our own shit in a state controlled nursing home, worried and abused by illegal immigrant “carers” who don’t give a shit whether we live or die, with the state finally giving us the terminal insult by stealing all of our accumulated wealth to pay for the privilege of sitting in our own shit. What you appear to recommend is that I live long enough to carry on paying tax whilst someone else is wiping my arse. You can guess my response, can’t you?
So please, for the love of god, keep your righteous, hectoring| “I know better than you how to live your life”, prodnosed, interfering, nannying, sanctimonious, bullshit to yourself. One thing you need to realise. The Righteous, of whom you are one, are decimating society at present and have been doing so for years now. It has always been a matter of puzzlement to me that some idiot who I have never met, and who seems to have contributed pretty much fuck all to the well of human knowledge, thinks he knows better than me how I should live my life. I will say this for myself and all of us who despise your self-righteous arrogance. Who the fuck do you think you are? There is no indication that idiots like you will stop. Be aware that one day the proles might be on your lawn with a pitchfork and a rope. The day that happens you can guarantee that I will be there.
In short, Mr Reed, you, Paul Johnson, and Ash can just fuck off."
A prayer at midnight
3 hours ago