Feb. 02–Lighting up lightens your wallet big time.
Smoking is an expensive habit but the costs are astonishing over a year and downright eye-popping over a lifetime, according to an analysis by WalletHub, an online financial resource for consumers.
In Florida, a pack-a-day habit and other related expenses adds up to $28,500 a year and a whopping $1.45 million over a lifetime, the analysis shows.
Besides the cost of cigarettes, the calculations take into account health care expenses, income losses and other expenses that are often overlooked.
All calculations are based on someone taking up the habit at age 18 and smoking one pack a day. For costs over a lifetime, WalletHub assumes a smoker starts at 18 and keeps it up to age 69, the average age when a smoker dies.
The lifetime costs hit high numbers, in part because WalletHub calculates investment earnings lost, or what smokers give up in potential stock market earnings over a lifetime when money that could have been invested is used instead for cigarettes.
WalletHub arrives at the number by using what a smoker spends on cigarettes over a lifetime against the historical average market return for the S&P 500, minus the inflation rate to arrive at what the return would be in present-value terms.
WalletHub calculates lost investment opportunities for one year of smoking in Florida is $19,149 and $976,587 over a lifetime.
Add that to $192,625 in lost income and $163,277 in healthcare costs over a lifetime and smokers pay big prices, according to WalletHub.
“A lot of people are surprised,” Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with WalletHub, said of the report, called “The True Cost of Smoking.”
Still, there has been little reaction from state governments, which were presented with a copy of the findings, she said.
“Consumers are little more shocked how much, year to year. It adds up to quite a chunk of change,” she said.
In just one year of smoking, Florida residents spend $2,025 out of pocket for cigarettes and $3,202 for health care costs, according to WalletHub. That finding uses data from the state and from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gonzalez said.
In addition, Florida smokers lose $3,777 in income losses in one year due to absenteeism, workplace bias against promoting smokers and because of a wage gap between smokers and nonsmokers.
Based on a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, smokers earn 20 percent less than nonsmokers, of which 8 percent is attributed to the habit. WalletHub used 8 percent to calculate income losses.
In addition, nonsmokers generally are entitled to a credit of 5 percent to 15 percent on homeowners’ insurance, so smokers forego that, an expense that is often overlooked.
While proponents of the Blue Zones Project don’t specifically target or admonish smokers, the plans and books highly recommend a healthy lifestyle using diets, eating habits and daily practices.
Florida ranks 21 among the 50 states, based on overall costs tied to smoking. The cheapest states are where cigarette taxes are lower and where the tobacco industry has a presence, such as in Kentucky and North Carolina, to the most expensive states like in New England where taxes on cigarettes are highest, Gonzalez said.
Brenda Olsen, chief operating officer for the American Lung Association in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, said Florida has done pretty well in reducing smoking rates but could always do better.
The association’s annual tobacco control report released this week says the adult smoking rate is 17.6 percent in Florida while the overall tobacco use rate among adults is 19.3 percent.
The high school smoking rate in Florida is 6.9 percent and 2 percent in middle school.
Utah is ranked No. 1 for having the lowest adult smoking rate among the 50 states and Florida is ranked 14th, she said.
What’s been key is a constitutional amendment that Florida voters approved in 2006 to allocate money to a prevention campaign from the tobacco lawsuit settlement fund from 1998.
“We really have been able to move the bar because of that,” Olsen said.
For 2016, the state is spending $68 million on its tobacco control program and cessation services, according to the lung association.
Still, the smoking toll remains tremendous at $8.6 billion a year, she said.
“That’s just direct health care costs and that is not taking into account the amount of work lost when a smoker goes on a break,” she said.
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