The Cost Of Not Smoking

In a dramatic shift, Congress yesterday voted to give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco.

Everyone seems to agree this could save many lives. Interesting note from a post on the Congressional Budget Office Director's blog:

Counterintuitively, a reduction in smoking might add to the government's costs in many cases by enabling some people to live longer and to incur health care costs over longer periods. In those cases, government spending for Social Security, Medicare, and other retirement and mandatory spending programs, would increase.

The House and Senate passed slightly different versions of the bill. Both require large labels on cigarette packages ("WARNING: Smoking can kill you." is one option). The House calls for the statement to occupy "30 percent of the front and rear panels of the package." The Senate version calls for labels that take up 50% of the front and back.

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