Smoking Cigarettes is Hazardous to Your Financial Life

your financial health 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 over $7.00 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 $140 per month or $1680 per year.   If you invested this $140 each month and earned 6% you would have $23,058 after 10 years and $65,009 after 20 years.

If you happen to live in New York City, the cost of a pack of cigarettes will now set you back $13 or roughly $260 per month and $3,120 per year.  If you invested this $260 each month and earned 6% you would have $42,822 after 10 years and $120,731 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.

According to a 2017 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that smoking related illness costs more than $300 billion each year including $170 billion in direct medical care costs and $156 billion in lost productivity.

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?

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