The New Year is a great time to look at making changes and many people include losing weight or quitting smoking as a goal. It’s no secret that the cost of a pack of cigarettes has risen dramatically over the last several years but there are other costs of smoking that you may not have been aware of.
The Cost of a Pack of Cigarettes
The cost of a pack of cigarettes now averages $5.51 in the U.S., up from $0.35 in 1970. The average smoker smokes about 5 packs of cigarettes per week. That works out to $110 per month or $5730 per year. If you invested this $110 each month and earned 6% you would have $18,131 after 10 years and $51,167 after 20 years.
Smokers Pay More for Health Insurance
Current Healthcare Law allows employers to charge employees who fail to meet certain healthcare standards up to 20%, %30 in 2014 of their healthcare costs and potentially up to 50% of the cost of the policy. Walmart charges a $2000 surcharge to employees who smoke and the only way to avoid this surcharge is to have a Doctor attest that quitting smoking would be medically inadvisable or impossible or complete a company sponsored smoking cessation program.
Other companies are offering incentives for their employees to make healthy lifestyle choices. Indiana University Health, a large health network, is offering a $720 discount on health insurance for employees who do not smoke and maintain a certain body mass index (BMI). Workers who do not meet the BMI guidelines can still qualify for the discount by having a doctor attest that the employee has a medical condition that makes the BMI goal unreasonable.
True Cost of Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking lowers the life expectancy by an average of 7.13 years for a man and 4.5 years for a woman and has a “true cost” of between $40 and $222. In The Price of Smoking, Duke University researchers estimated the individual and societal costs of smoking at $40 a pack while a study in Journal of Health Economics 27 (2008) estimated the cost per pack at $222. According to researchers at Pennsylvania State University, found the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $5.51 in the U.S. while lost productivity and medical costs are $18.05 per pack. The study also found that for every dollar spent on smoking cessation programs, State Governments could save $0.86 to $2.52.
As companies look for more ways to rein in health care spending by shifting costs to employees, the cost of smoking cigarettes will continue to rise.
Does the “true cost” of smoking influence whether you smoke or not?