Study Finds Smoking is Bad for Your Health and Bad for Your Wallet

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It’s no myth that smoking is bad for your health. With a laundry list of ill effects, tobacco-related deaths are totaling an average of 500 thousand per year in the United States alone. It is not a victimless habit either. According to The American Lung Association, second-hand smoke accounts for “$156 billion in lost productivity and premature death,” annually. Along with being addictive, smoking can also be extremely harmful to your financial health as well.

WalletHub recently conducted a study measuring the financial costs relating to smoking. The findings compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia across various domains such as annual cost of a cigarette pack per day, health care expenditures and income losses. Let’s see how the states stacked up.

No bueno.

Photo: Flickr/Ida Myrvold

Rounding out the top five, which in this case means the states that overall spend the lowest amount of money per smoker, were Kentucky (#1), North Carolina (#2), Georgia (#3), Mississippi (#4) and Tennessee (#5). An interesting fact to note is that these top five also represent some of largest producers of tobacco in the country.

In the bottom five, which means these states spent the most money per smoker over the course of a lifetime on average, New York was ranked at #51, or the worst overall, averaging $2,313,025 over the course of a lifetime. Rounding out the bottom five were Massachusetts (#50), Connecticut (#49), Rhode Island (#48) and Alaska (#47). Texas was ranked snugly in the middle at number 27 with an average lifetime cost of $1,458,738 per smoker.


Photo: Flickr/Yale Rosen

The average cost per smoker annually was almost identical to the rankings of the total lifetime cost. The average annual cost was calculated by taking the sum of the following categories: Out of Pocket Cost, Financial Opportunity Cost, Health Care Cost per Smoker, Income Loss per Smoker and Other Cost per Smoker. Kentucky again received the highest ranking at an annual cost of $22,285 per smoker. New York also was ranked last in this category with an annual cost of $45,353. Texas was ranked again at #27 with an annual cost of $28,603.

As you can see, the actual cost of using tobacco over a lifetime adds up to staggering amounts. Steven A. Branstetter, a Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State, offers an interesting and possibly controversial suggestion on quitting smoking—put it on the employers and insurance companies:

“One approach that has been studied with some efficacy is simply paying employees to quit smoking. As we have found, with higher taxation resulting in lower smoking rates, smokers (like the rest of us) make decisions based on economic considerations”, Branstetter said.

The moral of the story is that smoking will kill your health and your wallet.