If money really talks, could financial data persuade smokers, finally, to see the light and give up the habit, knowing that it racks up seven-figure lifetime costs per user in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia?
WalletHub, a West Coast personal finance site, has posted its crunching of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Insurance Information Institute, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, NYsmokefree.com, Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), Kaiser Family Foundation and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.
Information from these sources was used to calculate the “per-person cost of smoking in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia [including] potential monetary losses — including both the lifetime and annual cost of a cigarette pack per day, health care expenditures, income losses and other costs — brought on by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.”
The site calculated the lifetime costs add up to $1,324,941 per smoker in Virginia, $1,704,023 in Maryland, and $1,919,776 in DC. The differences are mostly from variations in taxes, which some jurisdictions have piled on as another incentive to quit.
Smoking’s lifetime financial toll runs highest in New York ($2,330,381) and lowest in Kentucky ($1,145,128), with the Empire State’s tally topping the charts due to high per smoker costs, as well as those for health care and opportunity lost.
Wallet Hub reported that it costs a Virginian $25,979 annually to smoke, while puffers in Maryland paid $33,412 per year, and nicotine users in the District forked over $37,579 for 365 days’ worth of their addiction.
Smokers undaunted by economic arguments about the harms of their habit may want to peruse the WalletHub post because it also provides easily accessed comments from more than a dozen doctors and public health experts about cigarettes’ dangers, including their proven causation with cancers, as well as heart and lung diseases.
In my practice, I see not only the major harms that patients suffer while seeking medical services but also the huge hit that many of them take due to the ravages of tobacco and cigarette smoking. Experts now say that 80 percent of cardiovascular disease cases and roughly half of cancer cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes — with smoking cessation one of the top beneficial steps that Americans can make.
Uncle Sam, as well as organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, have campaigned for decades to get us to snuff cigarettes out of our lives. But Big Tobacco keeps pushing its damaging products, including dubious new delivery systems like e-cigarettes that target teens who want to “vape.”
It’s sad but true that this important health message needs to be repeated and repeated and repeated: If you don’t smoke, don’t get started — not cigarettes, cigars, e-cigs, hookahs or who knows what else. If you do smoke, it’s a new year: Talk to your doctor to figure how you can quit. Make it the top health resolution that you keep. It’s a step that not only will help let you feel like a million bucks. It also may let you keep big sums like that in your wallet and not in Big Tobacco’s coffers.