Smoking Our Way Out Of Debt

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, a smoker himself, has a tongue-half-in-cheek post on taxing smoking as a way to reduce health care costs and the federal deficit:

What if smokers saved the government money? Because we do. We get cancer earlier. We die younger. We cost less in pensions and we even cost less in healthcare. What is so cripplingly damaging to the healthcare system is end of life care for the elderly, right? Postponing the inevitable by a couple months, right? End of life care is much cheaper for a 60 year old with untreatable cancer, whom you just put on a morphine drip, than it is for an 85 year old with about eleven different conditions.

He's got a point:

[If] you want to disincentivize smoking through sin taxes, that’s perfectly fine. It’s okay to have public policy that disincentivizes bad things just because they’re bad, without having to make budget projections over the next 30 years. I’m willing to pay extra to feed my addiction. But don’t lie about the real reason you’re doing it.