The Hidden Costs of Smoking

Great American Smokeout

Recognizing the 24th annual Great American Smokeout, November 17, 2011

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that more than 20 percent of Americans smoke. On average, smokers spend $1,600 a year for cigarettes.

Smoking costs individuals more than out-of-pocket cash for cigarettes. Duke University health economists determined that if the average 24-year-old smoker uses cigarettes for 60 years, the projected cost for a man would be $220,000 and $106,000 for a woman, in terms of expenses for taxes, car and house insurance, healthcare premiums and lost earnings due to disability. Consider these other startling costs of smoking:

  • Higher incidences of medical problems and mortality rates at a younger age – Smokers visit the doctor more frequently, spend more on medications and die younger than nonsmokers
  • Expensive life insurance premiums – Smokers are categorized as “high risk” and pay more for life insurance coverage
  • Increased risk for other diseases – Smoking often leads to health complications, such as lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, leukemia, bronchitis, asthma, cervical cancer, kidney cancer or stomach cancer
    • More Americans die from smoking-related diseases each year than from AIDS, alcohol, homicides, suicides, car accidents, fires and use of illegal drugs combined
  • Elevated risk of home and car accidents – Smokers tend to have more car accidents and cause more house fires than nonsmokers, leading to higher rates for auto and home insurance
  • Oral health problems – Smokers often experience these dental problems: oral cancer, mouth sores, gum disease, tooth decay, bad breath, teeth discoloration
    • Approximately 36,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with oral cancer; if detected too late, only 50 percent of patients survive longer than five years
    • Between 40 and 60 percent of smokeless tobacco users have a lesion in the mouth where tobacco is stored; often developing within a few months of use
    • Tobacco diminishes your ability to taste and smell

If you are a smoker, we urge you to stop smoking or make a plan to quit. The benefits of this decision are significant: improved physical and oral health, increased cash in your pocket and enhanced quality of life for you and those of your family and friends. Please don’t wait another day – your health is worth it!