Posted by: twotrees | March 28, 2010

Dead Net

This week, I had the pleasure of again seeing the students of Ventura High do chalk art on their front lawn Wednesday and Thursday.  One of the pieces was of Joe Camel, the cartoon character that R.J. Reynolds uses to attract younger people to smoking.  Except this version shows Joe in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV.  

The day after viewing the art, I sat next to a local man at a luncheon who had worked for one of the big tobacco companies up until the early part of this decade.  He told me some anecdotal things about working for ‘one of the Fortune 100 companies’ and the luxury that they were accustomed to. 

Salaries were large, vacation and benefits plentiful.  Travel always first class, even for a mid-level director such as himself.   What had started as a job right out of college turned into a twenty year career.  But after he had had enough, and had seen many of his associates and their friends succumb to the ravages of tobacco smoking, he decided to call it quits – both the smoking and the job.

I asked him how much does it cost to produce a pack of cigarettes, including all those perks and the tremendous marketing behind each brand.  He said “I use to know that” stopped to ponder and then went on – “About a dollar per pack.  That figure is known as Dead Net in the industry.”  The retail cost of the product today includes roughly 40-50% tax (which appears to amount to over $2.50 per pack).

But another way to look at it is this – the REAL COST of the product today can’t be computed, as there are just too many factors to consider (deaths, pain suffering, health care costs, funeral costs, etc…

Each year, a staggering 440,000 people die in the U.S. from tobacco use, so says the American Cancer Society.  How can you calculate that?

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