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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 01:11 GMT 02:11 UK
Smoking is cost-effective, says report
The report spoke of smoking's economic benefits
The premature deaths of smokers has economic benefits, according to a controversial report commissioned by a leading US cigarette manufacturer.

The report, drawn up for tobacco giant Philip Morris Inc, found that the Czech Republic saved about $147m in 1997 through the deaths of smokers who would not live to use healthcare or housing for the elderly.

This is not the normal way we think about the lives of citizens

Richard Daynard, anti-tobacco industry lobbyist
Compiled as a cost-benefit analysis and delivered to the Czech Government, the study weighted the savings against the income tax lost and cost of caring for smokers before they died.

However, tobacco industry opponents have attacked the report as an attempt to show that governments benefit from smoking related deaths.

"I think it's pretty egregious," said Richard Daynard, Chairman of the Tobacco Products Liability Project.

"You don't see other companies doing it ... this is not the normal way we think about the lives of citizens," he added.

'Scary logic'

In a statement, Philip Morris said it "deeply regrets" suggestions of the beneficial economic effects of smoking.

Marlboro cigarettes
Philip Morris produces one of the world's best known brands
The study "was part of an ongoing debate about the economics of cigarette excise tax policy in the Czech Republic," said a company spokesman.

But, said Patti Lynn from the corporate watchdog Infact, "even if it were true ... it's a scary logic on which to base policy."

Anti-smoking groups have also questioned the report's validity, as it assumes that if cigarette sales ceased, smokers would not spend their money on other goods.

Philip Morris employs 178,000 people in more than 150 countries, and is the world's largest cigarette maker with brands such as Marlboro.

It produces 80% of the cigarettes smoked in the Czech Republic.


Tobacco companies have used similar arguments in the past to defend themselves against lawsuits from states demanding reimbursement for treating smoking-related diseases.

However, last month a Los Angeles jury ordered Philip Morris to pay more than $3bn to a smoker suffering from terminal cancer who said the company did not warn him of the dangers of smoking.

The award was the largest individual punitive damage award ever against a cigarette maker.

The BBC's Elaine Parke
"Anti-smoking campaigners say this analysis proves Philip Morris is more interested in profits than lives"
Richard Daynard, Tobacco Products Liability Project
"It really is quite dreadful"

Can tobacco companies ever justify smoking?
See also:

13 Jul 01 | Health
Gene linked to heart disease risk
07 Jun 01 | Business
Q&A: Tobacco litigation
07 Jun 01 | Americas
US smoker wins billions in damages
15 May 01 | Health
Europe strikes at smoking
15 Oct 99 | Americas
The US tobacco wars
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