A conservative analysis of some of the costs and benefits of smoking to our society are presented. This preliminary investigation updates and refines the methodology of a previous study. Depending on the underlying economic assumption, smoking cost South Africa between R212 and R481 million in 1985 as a result of lost productivity due to premature death. Lost productivity while smokers were undergoing treatment cost at least R22 million. Hospitalisation and other health care costs amounted to R128 million in public institutions alone. It is likely that the current level of excise duty does not compensate for the high social costs resulting from smoking. Although many of the costs and benefits of smoking are not quantifiable in monetary units, the available information as presented in this study suggests that the cost of the tobacco industry to South Africa at present, and particularly its potential cost in the future, outweigh any possible economic benefit.