Every year “The Real Cost of Smoking By State” is shared by WalletHub’s analysts for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The states are given an overall rank as well as ranked in five other categories which when added together make up the total cost. It is easy for smokers to see the price of cigarettes when they walk into the store, and they understand it ruins your health, but many do not understand the great “economic and societal costs,” mostly due to smoking-related health care and lost productivity due to smoking and secondhand smoke.
It is estimated there are 36.5 million U.S. tobacco users and nearly half a million lose their lives each year due to tobacco use. The “total economics cost from smoking is more than $300 billion a year.” So what exactly are these costs? Besides the price of that pack of cigarettes, smokers pay for higher health care insurance, home, life, and auto insurance. Smokers take more sick days, and if they smoke around their families, the family also suffer more health issues. Early death from smoking-related health issues means the family suffers from lost income. There is quite a difference in the total cost per smoker between New York (ranked 51 – $2,313,205) where the cost of living is the highest and cigarette taxes are at $4.35/pack, and Kentucky (ranked 1 – $1,136,524) where cigarette taxes are $.60/pack and overall costs are lower.
The formula used to determine the out-of-pocket cost over a lifetime is “the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in each state, multiplied by the total number of days in 51 years.” To obtain the the costs per year, they “multiplied the average cost by 365 days,” assuming a pack a day was purchased. Since a smoker cannot legally purchase tobacco until they are 18, that is the starting age. On average smokers also die earlier than nonsmokers so 69 was “the average age at which a smoker dies.”
Florida ranks in the middle at 24 with $1,426,171 spent over a smoker’s lifetime or about $27,337 a year. Health care costs in Florida appear to be higher than other states, ranking us at 35 out of 51. And “Other costs” have us ranked at 51, the highest of any states. Other costs include insurance credits and secondhand-smoke exposure.
There are two easy ways to protect public health in Florida, both of which would decrease youth tobacco use in our state, and ultimately adult smoking. First, raise the age to purchase tobacco to 21 which would decrease the ability of those 18 year olds to purchase tobacco for younger peers. Second, raise the tobacco tax on cigarettes, which hasn’t been raised in Florida since 2009, to at least $2/pack. Federal taxes also need to be increased. We can no longer use the excuse that the higher prices would hurt those most vulnerable because they are already being hurt by using tobacco in the first place.
Click here for the “Financial Cost of Smoking By State” article.