The Cost Of Smoking Cigarette Costs Health Care Costs And More

If you estimate cigarette costs at about $4.50 per pack, a few simple calculations can give you a sense of the most tangible cost of smoking over the course of a week, a month and a year. However, a nicotine addiction can drain a smoker’s bank account in other ways, too.

Health insurance premiums and health care costs are higher for smokers, home and car resale values are lower and many small expenses like dry cleaning bills can accumulate–adding up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year. Learn how cigarettes may also limit a smoker’s earning potential.

Personal Cost of Smoking

Estimating the true cost of smoking starts with cigarette costs, and at $4.50 per pack, a pack-a-day smoker can lose $31.50 per week, $126.00 per month or $1,638 per year. It may be time to put that money to a better purpose.

If you smoke, consider spending some time with a calculator and estimating what you could save each year if you cut back on your cigarette costs, as well as the tooth whiteners, dry cleaning and any other personal expenses that you incur as a result of your habit. Then add up the amount you could save on your health insurance premiums and your homeowners insurance (nonsmokers receive a 10 percent discount on average.)

The total annual amount you stand to save may surprise you. For additional motivation to quit, estimate how these savings could accelerate your debt payments, or how much they might amount to in a few years, if you were to invest them in a 401(k) or a mutual fund.

Public Health Care Costs

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (2010) has calculated the following annual state and federal tobacco costs for smoking-related Medicaid, Medicare and other public health program expenses:

  • Annual smoking-related Medicaid payments: $30.9 billion
  • Annual smoking-related Medicare health care costs: $27.4 billion
  • Other federal tobacco-related health care costs: $9.6 billion
  • Secondhand smoke-related health care costs: $4.98 billion.

This adds up to yearly tobacco costs of about $616 per household in state and federal taxes.

Smoking and Work

Some smokers in search of work may be concerned about whether potential employers factor smoking into their hiring decisions. Employment laws vary by state. In some states, the law prohibits employers from rejecting candidates or firing employees based on their personal behavior outside of work. As long as smokers abide by building and workplace rules, they can’t be fired in these states solely for smoking. However, employers tend to lobby for greater flexibility on these laws, since employing smokers may increase group health insurance costs.

If you’re a smoker and concerned about your job security, look into your state’s employment laws. Your job prospects–as well as your health–may be at risk.

Resources

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (2010.) Toll of tobacco in the United States of America. Retrieved October 18, 2010, from http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0072.pdf

Friedman, S. J. (2006.) Penalizing applicants and employees for smoking: A potential smoking gun? Retrieved October 18, 2010, from http://www.lorman.com/newsletter/article.php?article_id=506&category_id=3&newsletter_id=109

MSN Money. (2008.) The high cost of smoking. Retrieved October 18, 2010, from http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourHealth/HighCostOfSmoking.aspx?page=1