by Planet Money from
 A decade ago, Philip Morris commissioned a study that found smokers in the Czech Republic were actually saving society money.

A big part of the savings: Smoking tends to kill people while they’re still young, saving society the long-term costs of caring for them as they get older.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this finding blew up in the company’s face.


Newspapers around the world picked up the story: “Smoking Cuts Elderly Costs, and Elderly

The company furiously backtracked: “We understand the outrage that has been expressed and we sincerely regret this extraordinarily unfortunate incident.”

Activists used the study’s findings against the industry ‘€” and, paradoxically, sought to undermine the study’s conclusions.

On today’s Planet Money, we tell the story of the study. And we look more broadly at the economics of this stuff.

For more on the story of the Czech smoking study, listen to our piece on this weekend’s This American Life. (Find out  when the show airs  on your local station.)

For further reading: Here’s the  study Philip Morris commissioned. Here’s a frequently cited  study from the mid-’90scomparing cigarette taxes to the costs smoking imposes on society. Here’s another study on the subject from theCongressional Research Service.

Download the podcast, or  Subscribe. Music: Rufus Wainwright: “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk.” Find us:  Twitter/  Facebook/Flickr.


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