If smoking is banned, we’ll lose valuable revenue

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ST_smoking0 (26338991) INLSA Cape Town 091027. People smoke in areas within the barriers of the new smoking designation law. In this photo, In Hyun Song outside the Mexican Kitchen. PHOTO SAM CLARK, Argus, Sipokazi

So the Department of Health wants to ban smoking in all public places? I do not think it has thought the plan through to its logical conclusion.

Admittedly smokers cost millions in hospitalisation, but they provide billions in excise tax and VAT to compensate. Where is the government going to get this shortfall in taxes from when all smoking is banned?

Increase VAT to 20 or 25 percent? The poor and unemployed will be affected, the unemployed will possibly turn to crime to get money, and we have enough of a crime problem already.

Increase the customs tax on the billions of rand worth of Chinese imports coming into the country? Don’t make me laugh.

Increase income tax? Remember what happened to Britain when it increased income tax to exorbitant rates? The brainier people did not work hard because the government would get most of their earnings; even ordinary people did not want to work hard in case they got an increase that would take them into the next tax bracket. Entrepeneurs did not start new businesses because their earnings would go to the government (and we know we need new businesses to create jobs).

Let smokers smoke themselves to death, and let us keep the little money we have left!

In 1999 the American Environmental Authority did an experiment with half the people in an office smoking and half not. They put the smoking machines and the smoke absorbing machines about a metre apart, and found that the non-smokers would absorb the equivalent of one cigarette every 48 000 hours. This equates to a person working eight hours a day, five days a week, with a fortnight’s holiday every year, no public holidays or sick leave, from age 20 to 65, “smoking” the equivalent of two cigarettes in their lifetime – hardly a disaster!

Peter N Marais

Tokai, Western Cape


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