Smoking burns your wallet, along with your lungs

Smoking burns your wallet, along with your lungs

January 9th, 2019 by Elizabeth Fite in Local Regional News

Used cigarettes sit in a trashcan ashtray outside the Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts Building Wednesday, January 9, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Studies show that the cost of smoking cigarettes can create a significant financial burden on smokers, with smokers in some states seeing that more than others.

Photo by Erin O. Smith

Most costly places to smoke

  • Connecticut ($2,854,614)
  • New York ($2,851,475)
  • District of Columbia ($2,813,525)
  • Massachusetts ($2,762,273)
  • Rhode Island ($2,681,967)
  • Alaska ($2,499,920)
  • Hawaii ($2,492,217)

  • Figures are based on WalletHub study of average cost per smoker over the course of their life.

    Smoking kills nearly half a million people in the United States each year, but the deadly habit damages Americans' wallets, too.

    A Tennessean who smokes spends $1,460,661 on cigarettes, health care costs, lost income and other expenses throughout their lifetime, according to a report from WalletHub released Wednesday. The analysis provides a snapshot of the financial burden of smoking in each state using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other sources. The report considered only cigarettes and not other forms of tobacco or nicotine products.

    Despite the high cost of smoking in the state, the report ranked Tennessee the seventh cheapest place for smokers, as opposed to Connecticut, New York and the District of Columbia — where a lifetime of cigarette use averages around $2.8 million per person. The least expensive state for smoking is Georgia at $1,396,882 per person, followed by Missouri and North Carolina.

    Least costly places to smoke

  • Georgia ($1,396,882)
  • Missouri ($1,413,082)
  • North Carolina ($1,421,995)
  • Mississippi ($1,431,749)
  • South Carolina ($1,444,815)
  • Tennessee ($1,460,661)
  • Alabama ($1,466,602)

  • Figures are based on WalletHub study of average cost per smoker over the course of their life.

    A man holds a cigarette as he smokes outside the Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts Building Wednesday, January 9, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Studies show that the cost of smoking cigarettes can create a significant financial burden on smokers, with smokers in some states seeing that more than others.

    A man holds a cigarette as he smokes...

    Photo by Erin O. Smith

    The study did not take cost of living into account; however, research from the surgeon general found that increasing the price of tobacco products is "the single most effective way to reduce consumption." This finding could leave policy makers in low-tax states with high rates of smoking like Tennessee at odds with what's best for their economies and the health of their citizens, WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said in an email.

    "Unfortunately, it would indeed seem that smoking is good for the economy. States benefit a lot from cigarette tax revenue. The bottom line is it all depends on each state's priorities and various other sources of income," Gonzalez said.

    The average retail price of a pack of 20 full-priced brand cigarettes, including federal and state excise taxes, ranged from $5.12 in Missouri to a high of $10.66 in New York, according to the CDC.

    While raising cigarette taxes can help reduce the number of smokers, especially among young people, it will not motivate all smokers to quit and is only one piece of comprehensive tobacco control. Mass media campaigns, smoke-free laws and policies, evidence-based school programs and sustained community-wide efforts are strategies beyond tax increases that states can employ to curb smoking.

    "If we consider why people take up smoking to begin with, the reasons could range anywhere from environment to stress, anxiety or just experimentation," Gonzalez said. "Health is the main factor that should cause a person to quit smoking."

    The Times Free Press encountered numerous people smoking in Chattanooga on Wednesday afternoon. Although none cared to speak on the record, several spoke about the negative financial impact of smoking and their attempts at trying to quit.

    Contact staff writer Elizabeth Fite at efite@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.

    Source: WalletHub