Smoking is a common and unhealthy habit which can lead to the development of many diseases such as lung cancer and bronchitis. A person who engages in this activity is self inflicting these potential diseases upon themselves so can ultimately be held responsible for the deterioration of their health which could follow. Treating smokers requires money out of the tight NHS budget so the statement implies the money shouldn’t be spent on them.Some people would argue that not treating is unfair as it implies that smokers should be deprived of healthcare for any type of illness irregardless of whether it correlates with their smoking habit. It is unjust to refuse to provide a smoker with a vaccination against meningitis on the basis of them smoking. Also, taking the stance that smokers shouldn’t be treated on NHS could be considered a dangerous decision as there are many other illness which could be regarded as ‘self-inflicted’. Examples can include obesity and injuries caused by partaking in extreme sports such as rugby. This could even be expanded to road traffic accidents as the person driving puts themselves at risk by sitting behind the wheel. Where would the line be drawn? Furthermore, health professionals have a duty of care to everybody under the medical ethics principle of justice. Smokers may require a form of psychological treatment such as aversion therapy to help them stop smoking. 

Alternatively, if smokers were not treated on the NHS more funding could be provided to other areas such as reseach into cures for genetic conditions like cysti fibrosis. Suffered of cystic fibrosis have acquired this disease through no fault of their own so the arguement could be proposed that they deserve preferential treatment and consideration in comparison to smokers. Treating smokers for lung cancer, for example, by providing them with a lung transplant could be considered as an unfruitful act by some. Smoking is addictive so after the treatment the person could return to their previous habit of smoking and destroy their new lungs too. Not allowing smokers to be treated on the NHS could additionally serve as a deterrent and encourage people to give up smoking. This would be a very positive outcome as the effects of passive smoking would also be reduced.

Overall, despite the fact that some people believe smokers should not be treated due to the fact that this time and money could be dedicated some where else, overall I disagree with this statement. This is mainly because of the vague definition of ‘self-inflicted’ and the wide array of conditions which could be misplaced under that category, and the duty of healthcare providers to treat each patient equally. Smoking isn’t necessary always a choice too as there is a correlation with living in deprived areas and having a poor upbringing and engaging in healt damaging acts such as smoking. 

Posted by:Life of a Medic

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