The cost of smoking:

Bruce Graham writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 11). Richard Farmer: actually, smokers have higher rates of vascular dementia than non smokers, so it would not be a straightforward calculation. It is incorrect to think that smoking will help you escape this fate. Arguably, smoking would be beneficial for cerebral function if people started using nicotine only after they reached an advanced age (say, 80), thus gaining the stimulant effects, and avoiding the atherosclerosis.

Broadly speaking, though, you are  right in your suspicion. Smoking saves the community money  by helping smokers die faster. An act of community spirited generosity, you might argue.  Phillip Morris once told the Czech government precisely this, perhaps only later realising that the cynicism its analysis required was an own-goal.

But Richard: established drug users (such as yourself) often make the mistake of believing that, since they themselves are not influenced by advertising, others are also not. It is a feature of drug dependency. Drug-seeking behaviour becomes self sustaining.

The psychology of this phenomenon  is quite well understood and uncontroversial. So whoever health  or cost, or fashion, or beauty) related claims about smoking are targeted at, they are not targeted at you. You, like other established drug users, will change behaviour only as a result of some personal event.

Sydney airport:

John Gleeson writes: Re. “Sydney’s second airport has all sides of politics in trouble” (yesterday, item 10). Pleased to hear that the rail link to Badgerys Creek is being completed by stealth, and we will have a rail link between Sydney airports.

It’s just a shame that the link to Sydney Central feeds into the congested suburban station — totally unsuited for long-distance travellers with luggage — instead of the country side, which is underutilised, and ideal for an airport link.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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