Smoking helps Czech budget, Philip Morris-funded study reveals
According to statistics provided by the World Health Organization, about 37 per cent of Czechs over 15 years of age smoke cigarettes every day. However, besides damaging their and other people's health, they contribute significantly to the treasury, yet another study has confirmed. Olga Szantova has this report.
The study, based on 1999 data, the latest available, indicates that the effect of smoking on the public finance budget was positive, estimated at 5.8 billion CZK.
The study, commissioned by Philip Morris, did not seek to tackle the question of whether smoking was good or bad for society in general. The report acknowledged that cancer, heart and respiratory diseases as well as low birth-weights in infants can be attributed to smoking. The costs of caring for these problems is heavily borne by the government through socialized health care.
But the government's annual income from the excise tax on tobacco alone tops 15 billion crowns - 4 billion above the government's cost of smoking-related health care. Value-added taxes, customs duties and corporate income taxes provide even more treasury income.
While the state budget relies heavily on revenue from the sale of tobacco products, Czech lawmakers have been stepping up the fight against smoking. But experts consider the efforts insufficient and point out that comprehensive tobacco control is still missing.
Although the situation has been improving, experts claim, the Czech republic is still about 20 years behind the United States or Western Europe in general recognition of the serious threat to people's health presented by tobacco.