Tuesday 25 January 2011

Saving Where Saving's Due

One of the funniest examples of truth-bending in ASH groupie Henry Featherstone's laughable Policy Exchange report on the cost of smoking back in March, was this one [pdf page 4].

According to an Environmental Campaigns (ENCAMS) local environmental quality study, smoking related litter was found in 78% of locations investigated. The cost of clearing these cigarette butts is estimated at £342 million each year.
Fooling absolutely no-one, Henry tries to convince us that if every smoker quit tomorrow, the country would all of a sudden require around 17,000 fewer street cleaners (based on £20k pa).

Utter tosh, of course, since wherever that litter is found would still require clearing of other litter. Putting a (exaggerated) percentage figure on smoking-related mess and extrapolating it simply proves that Henry is naïve, doesn't understand life's logic or public sector behaviour, and therefore probably needs to be supervised when out in public for his own safety.

However, via the upside down libertarian, we find a real smoke-related saving which could be made if hateful lemon-sucking tobacco control morons were truly interested in such things.

A hospital which charged £52,000 for a job that cost £750. Demolishing a shelter for smokers resulted in the PFI contractor charging £2,600 a year for the “extra cleaning”.
This isn't the kind of money Henry would recognise, of course, because it's the tangible stuff which, you know, actually exists.

Now, considering NHS hospitals up and down the country have been ripping out smoking shelters and applying ultra vires smoking bans which are completely unenforceable, I wonder if ASH's latest stooge (Henry bailed from PE soon after his public humiliation) would like to be consistent and put a figure on how much such lunacy is costing the taxpayer in increased cleaning costs.

Or, to put it another way, how much the country would save if the NHS were to reverse such a pointlessly quixotic policy and treat their smoker taxpaying funders with some fucking respect.

It would be consistent, would it not?


Mark Wadsworth said...

He can estimate what he wants, The Daily Mail did a related shock horror article saying street sweeping in the UK costs £858 million, which works out at about 30p per person per week, which

a. Seems like pretty good value.
b. A smoker has paid for out of the tax on about two cigarettes per day.

If ASH seriously think that fag butts make up 40% of litter then they are seriously deluded. Oh, right...

Anonymous said...

They pulled the same thing here in San Francisco, California, USA a few years back. The city needed more money to pay for a third garbage pickup each week, since they wanted to "go green" and instead of garbage pickup one day, recyclables the next, they felt the urge to add a third garbage pickup (3x the gasoline, 3x the vehicle depreciation - but more importantly, 3x the union worker wages) - in order to pick up compostables, after sending everyone a slop bucket to keep on our kitchen counters. (Slop that all ends up on Nancy Pelosi's vineyards, free fertilizer I might add.)

Anyhow, so the city needed more money for their trumped up garbage schemes and just a year before implementing them, to drum up extra funds, the city has a "scientific study" done which sifted through litter on the streets and declared that something like 50% to 60% of all litter is - you guessed it - cigarette butts.

With that, and since local tobacco tax is illegal in California, the city immediately used the "study" to pass a law, already drafted, ready and waiting, which added an additional 55-cents per pack tobacco "fee" - for matter of cleaning up the litter - streets they already swept daily anyhow with no new street sweepers needing added.

Government lies, they cheat, they steal, they rob from Peter to pay Paul, they swish around in city-hall playing games and spouting lies, the propaganda machine supports them, the citizen's none the wiser - and if they can screw "the smokers" in the process and get the money that way, then that's how they do it.

This sounds like the prelude to an encore production of "let's tax the smoker" - is exactly what it sounds like - because it's exactly what they did out here - same pattern, same ASH playbook, the approved method of implementing a new tobacco tax.

Anonymous said...

You say the NHS smoking bans are unenforceable - how so? Does that mean if I want to light up outside a hospital I can - along with the patients with drip stands who are ignoring the signs anyway. I feel a challenge to authority coming on!

Mark Wadsworth said...

Oops. I said:

"A smoker has paid for [his share of the street sweeping bill] out of the tax on about two cigarettes per day."

I meant "two cigarettes per week", obviously.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon: They are not mandated under the Health Act so are not law. If they were to be enforceable in a court, it would require further primary legislation. Tell 'em to sling their hook. ;)