Dying Early Is One of the Benefits of Smoking?

In the late 1990s, early 2000, the Czech health ministry came out with a report claiming that smoking’s costs outweighed its fiscal benefits.

In response to such a report, cigarette maker Philip Morris undertook its own study in an attempt to refute the health ministry.

As part of its study, Philip Morris estimated that one of the benefits of smoking was that the Czech government saved between 943 million and 1.2 billion korunas (about $24 million-to-$30 million) in health-care, pension, and public-housing costs due to the early deaths of smokers.

Yes, you read that right. Philip Morris claimed that one of the benefits of using its product was that people died early.

The Philip Morris report was unusual as historically, tobacco companies had disputed the link between smoking and early mortality, whereas the report used the early mortality as a selling point.

As you might imagine, there was a great deal of public backlash because of the results. Politicians, anti-smoking activists, economists, and watchdog groups condemned the report, pointing to its conclusions as evidence that Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company, was callous about the health of its customers.

It was a public relations disaster. The release of the report was viewed as a setback for Philip Morris which had been making charitable donations to improve its public image.

Philip Morris first tried to downplay the report, but eventually apologized:

For one of our tobacco companies to commission this study was not just a terrible mistake, it was wrong. All of us at Philip Morris, no matter where we work, are extremely sorry for this. No one benefits from the very real, serious and significant diseases caused by smoking. We understand the outrage that has been expressed and we sincerely regret this extraordinarily unfortunate incident. We will continue our best efforts to do the right thing in all our business, acknowledging mistakes when we make them and learning from them as we go forward.

Shocking enough to think that a company would release a report that shows its product leads to early death, but to then try and put a positive spin on it is beyond comprehension.




*image from VeryWell Mind


64 thoughts on “Dying Early Is One of the Benefits of Smoking?

  1. I’ve sometimes wondered if the coronavirus was leaked from the Chinese lab for the same purpose. After all, many more older people died from it than younger people. Look at all the money saved in pensions, all over the world.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Death is most definitely not what I’d call a benefit. Phillip Morris would have a better argument in ancient Greece where death was considered a reward and the best gift a mortal could receive. I wonder if the Greeks considered homicide to be a crime.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the numbers make sense. But a subsequent study by economist Hana Ross demonstrated that smoking deprived the Czech government budget of at least 14,455 mil CZK (or $373 million) annually, thus defeating the “death benefit” argument.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Corporations have placed profits over people for so long, that although this is a blatantly egregious stance to take, it is just one of many companies who think this way. We allow companies to market and sell addictive things like nicotine and opioids, and then wonder why people simply can’t choose to stop. I won’t even go into what FB has known and was okay with if it continued to drive profits. But we can’t tax the consumption of FB. A sad state of affairs for sure!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. here is more of what I found, which you already knew:

        The public associated smoking Strand cigarettes with being lonely and were put off from buying them. It is regarded as one of the most disastrous tobacco advertising campaigns of all time with only 0.3% of male smokers and 0.7% of female smokers ever buying a pack of Strand cigarettes.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems incredibly dumb that somebody would release such a report to the public.
    And, I suspect everything gets leaked nowadays so it seems dumb even to release it privately.

    But it is perfectly obvious that smoking causes early deaths, meaning the state has to pay less in age-related benefits. Questionnable, though, whether the state would actually save money, because these people would presumably incur massive healthcare costs on their way to an early grave.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. good point that they would save some money on future health costs and pensions, but then they would also lose all the tax money they could have collected from those smokers if they had loved longer.

      but it is astounding that they would go public with such a report…


      1. it’s kinda one of those truths you’d rather not know, isn’t it? Incredible shortsighted of the tobacco company – by the sounds of things it was a subsidiary – not to think people would pick op on this angle. I bet that guy got a rubbish bonus 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Of the 20 different types of cancer, 17 are linked to smoking cigarettes. Smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer by 2-4x, which is one of the most common forms in both men and women nowadays. In addition, smokers have a much higher risk for oral cancers and laryngeal cancers too.

    Liked by 1 person

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