This the lifetime of poor health habits. The article

This article titled, “The taxes of
sin: do smokers and drinkers pay their way?” is an article that examines and
quantifies the external costs of smoking and drinking alcohol. This article is
different than the previous estimates out there because those estimates are not
suitable for taxes because they do not always distinguish between external and
internal costs. The previous estimates also do not calculate the lifetime of
poor health habits. The article describes that the goal of an economically
efficient tax on smoking would be the smoker bear the costs that they impose
when they decide to smoke. This article is testing two groups of people, one is
a smoking group and the other is a non-smoking group. Answers that are
collected from these individuals will be added to a table that estimates the
relative risk of smoking to the 1980 life tables of the US population.

            The results
of this study concluded that the external costs of cigarettes are that each
pack of cigarettes increases medical costs by $0.38 but saves $1.82 in public and
private pension due to a 137- minute reduction in life expectancy. To test the
sensitivities of costs to assumptions the researchers tested the results based
on a discount rate below 5%. The results were insensitive to the tests, probably
because this would be treating all the differences between smokers and never
smokers the same. Other costs of smoking that were concluded were that passive
smoking causes an estimated 2,400 lung cancer deaths per year. Majority of
these costs have been concluded to be within the smoker’s family and are
internal or external depending on how much the smoker cares about the welfare
of their family when they smoke.

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            Looking at
the medical and pension costs per excess ounce of alcohol can be seen in this
study as well. Those who consume more than two drinks per day have external
medical and pension costs of $0.63 and causes a loss of 20 minutes of life
expectancy. Another external cost of drinking is that much of the data that examines
the probability that a drinker will be killed in a traffic accident does not
actually account for the deaths of nondrinking passengers that an alcohol
drinker may encounter. The DOT estimates that 7,400 of the 22,400 people who
died in alcohol-related traffic accidents did not consume any alcohol. Based on
the data these researchers uncovered, the willingness to pay for a human life
of $1.66 million and the estimated volume of drinking from the value of the
7,400 lost lives is $0.58 per excess ounce of ethanol.

            There are
several arguments for the research of this study that believe that taxing smoking
and drinking higher may decrease the number of individuals who become addicted
to cigarettes. These arguments include that: those who smoke are sensitive to
taxes, many adults do not appreciate the risks, and that such taxes are likely
to lead to a small change rather than none at all.

            My
questions regarding this study are: Does the demographics of where you are
testing these smokers/drinkers have an effect? Would studying different ethnicities
or genders of smokers/drinkers matter? Did this article consider any
limitations within the study? Were any biases within the study considered?