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Hard to make us personally or financially responsible for our health
Date:6/18/2013

smoking of his own free will, we also say that there is no previous cause. But it is very difficult to imagine that there is no previous cause at all, for instance that everybody the young man knows is a smoker and that he therefore would be an anomaly if he did not take up smoking," Martin Marchman Andersen points out and adds:

"The point is that the causal relationships within biology, sociology, and psychology we usually employ when we want to understand human behaviour must apply to lifestyle diseases too. It is not very likely that a young man who takes up smoking is immune to his genetic make-up or his social circumstances in such a way that we can justify the claim that he is responsible for smoking."

This does not mean that patients can never be held responsible, but we need other arguments than the ones we have used so far. And Martin Marchman Andersen underlines that even if we as a society decided that some patients in certain circumstances are to be held responsible for their own health, it would not automatically follow that we could just write out hospital bills to smokers in treatment for smoker's lungs.

Are smokers an economic burden?

Marchman Andersen's research shows that if smokers are to be held financially responsible for their health problems, the condition must be that they are proven to be an economic burden for society even when the complex impact calculations have been made.

"Economists have tried to calculate whether smokers cost society more than non-smokers, but they have not been able to reach a conclusive answer. And all the studies suffer from the same problem; they compare the costs of smokers with the costs of non-smokers, and that is too simplistic a model," says Martin Marchman Andersen and expands the point:

"We know from numerous studies in social inequality within health that lower social groups have a higher probability of contracting a number of diseases - even if t
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Contact: Martin Marchman Andersen
mmarch@hum.ku.dk
45-20-83-14-75
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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