Yesterday, I told you about the U.S. government’s biased policy toward lung cancer. For years, the government has said the only way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking. Or to never start. But clearly, this advice isn’t working. What about the growing trend of never-smokers who get lung cancer? Their numbers are on the rise. And clearly, the “don’t smoke” policy hasn’t helped them one bit.
The government also treats all smokers the same. Whether you’re a half-a-pack-per-day smoker. Or a three-pack-per-day smoker. Whether you’re a cigarette smoker, a cigar smoker, or a pipe smoker. The government basically says you’re all doomed. (And apparently deserve your fate.)
However, real research shows that light cigarette smokers (less than half a pack per day) are healthier in some ways than heavier smokers and non-smokers. Furthermore, people who smoke only pipes or cigars (not cigarettes) actually have lower death and disease rates overall. (Although, they have slightly higher rates of oral cancers compared to non-smokers.)
Despite the science, government statisticians and political scientists still lump all “smokers” together in their discriminatory policies.
But in the business world, they can’t operate like that. They have to be smarter. And pay attention to the actual science.
For example, life insurance companies use actuaries to predict life expectancies among people in the population. They are the real experts you can trust when it comes to health and vital statistics. (Like Edward G. Robinson’s character “Keyes,” in Double Indemnity.) And apparently, some smart actuary has done his or her research and discovered the not-so-hidden truth that pipe and cigar smokers actually live longer than their peers!
In fact, I just saw a commercial on CNN for a life insurance company. This company is offering competitive rates on life insurance to clients not conventionally represented as “good risks.” They promise “good rates” to cigar smokers. And this is interesting, because in health circles today, they portray all smokers as “bad” risks. Not to mention bad people.
But this isn’t an insurance company just being “a good neighbor.” This insurance company is actually being quite smart. It looked at the real statistics and made a good bet. In fact, they are betting that the occasional cigar smoker will actually live longer…because that’s what the real data says they’ll do. Occasional cigar smokers are actually good risks–because according to the real science–they have lower death rates overall in the population.
And the company will probably make a bundle. Because cigar smokers are made to feel guilty and think they are “bad risks” and need a “good” (translation: more expensive) insurance policy. That is, if they can get one!
The government would have you think that cigar smokers should pay more for life insurance. And for health insurance too. And, in fact, the Affordable Care Act will penalize all smokers indiscriminately. And they’ll have to pay more for health insurance too. But that’s about politics. And not actual science.
But you can bet that the life insurance actuaries know how to read the real numbers. Their business depends on it. And they can’t afford to play politically correct games with your health, and your insurance costs, as the U.S. government does.