The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
6 Points

Free NHS Treatment

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/4/2010 Category: Health
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,876 times Debate No: 11965
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




Should smokers and alcoholics be entitled to free NHS care?


Firstly, I would like to extend my thanks to Dollymouse for posting this challenge and, on behalf of, welcome her to this site.

Next, for the benefit of non-British voters, I should like to provide some brief background information on the National Health Service (NHS).

First of all, the NHS is a much-loved British institution, the cornerstone of which is that it is free at the point of use regardless of ability to pay - and this fundamental principle has never been interfered with since its foundation just after the Second World War.

Secondly, the NHS is funded by a tax known as National Insurance, which is currently set at 11% of employees' income and which is matched by their employer. [1]

Now, let's consider some facts:

Every year British smokers pay the Government �10 billion and drinkers pay �8.5 billion in excise and VAT on tobacco and alcohol respectively. [2,3]

Meanwhile, the cost of smoking to the NHS is �200 million per year while the cost to the NHS of alcohol abuse is �2.7 billion. [4,5]

So let's do some maths:

Government income from taxes on tobacco and alcohol equates to �18.5 billion.

Now deduct the cost to the NHS of tobacco and alcohol consumption, which is �2.9 billion.

This leaves a net contribution to Government coffers from drinkers and smokers of �15.6 billion.

Therefore, smokers and drinkers already pay far more into the NHS than they cost the service.

To put these figures into context, the obese cost the NHS �6.5 billion a year [6] – far more than both smokers and drinkers put together - yet there is no VAT (sales tax) or excise duty on the junk food the grossly overweight are so fond of.

Let's put it this way: if junk food were subjected to the same taxes as cigars, the cost of a Double Cheeseburger from the McDonalds Saver Menu would increase from �1.19 to �25.46. [6,7]

In other words, drinkers and smokers not only already pay for the NHS through their National Insurance contributions; they pay again – and handsomely - through VAT and excise duties.

Therefore, in order to be equitable and to avoid prosecution, if medical treatment were to be denied drinkers and smokers, as my opponent suggests, the Government would have the following choices:

a) Exempt drinkers and smokers from paying National Insurance contributions, which would be a huge loss to the Exchequer.
b) Abolish the excise duty and VAT on tobacco and alcohol, which would also represent a massive loss of income.
c) Deny medical treatment to the obese, which would be a big vote loser as almost a quarter of British adults would then be without free healthcare.
d) Impose VAT and excise duty on unhealthy foods, which would mean people in the normal weight range on low and middle incomes would no longer be able to afford to buy takeaway meals.

In conclusion, my opponent's proposal is unfair and unworkable and I therefore urge you to vote Pro.

Thank you.

Debate Round No. 1


dollymouse forfeited this round.


Arguments extended.
Debate Round No. 2


dollymouse forfeited this round.


Unfortunately, my opponent has not been able to continue this debate, which is a shame because it concerned a very topical subject.

To conclude, drinkers and smokers contribute an enormous amount to the NHS through direct and indirect taxation and they deserve the medical treatment that they have paid for.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Common_Sense_Please 6 years ago
I didn't know that.. :) Good argument.
Posted by Rockylightning 7 years ago
please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit please don't forfeit
Posted by Xer 7 years ago
Hopefully Con writes back. I doubt it though.
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
Thank you!
Posted by Kinesis 7 years ago
Awesome argument, Brian.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by J.Kenyon 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:06