The aim of this paper was to compare the benefit and costs of cigarette smoking from the government's perspective during a one-year period. This was undertaken by estimating, among other things, the publicly financed health care expenditure attributable to smoking and comparing it with tobacco taxes paid by smokers. This comparison of benefits and costs may provide a yardstick from which to measure the relative worth (in financial terms) an average smoker is to the government, an assessment that may be important when assessing health priorities and any level of commitment to reducing smoking rates. It is estimated that in 1989-90 an average smoker cost the government $203.57, while benefits received totalled an average of $620.56 in the same year. If the government were serious about addressing cigarette smoking as a primary health objective its efforts would portray this. The results of this analysis suggest that the objective of raising revenue from smoking is more of a priority than reducing smoking rates.