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The real cost of smoking in the U.S.

Tobacco use accounts for nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. each year and is the leading cause of lung cancer.

Smoking is also expensive. There are some direct costs associated with smoking tobacco products and these, in the U.S. alone, total some $300 billion a year nationally, in relation to an estimated 37.8 million people who use tobacco, (based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data). This is a cost that is also said to be increasing. Beyond this there are costs that impact on individual states.

These costs have been assessed by the personal-finance website WalletHub, and the finance group have issued a report titled “The Real Cost of Smoking by State”.

The costs breakdown is based on a number of measures. These factors include the lifetime and annual costs of a cigarette pack per day and state health care expenditures. To add to this, income losses are taken into account. The study metrics also take into account illnesses related to smoking and the impact of passive smoking (that is exposure to second-hand smoke).

The various U.S. states have been rankled from one to 51, with the state at the top having the lowest costs and the state at the bottom having the highest smoking related expenditure.

The state with the lowest costs is Georgia, followed by Missouri and North Carolina. Other states constituting the top ten are Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, North Dakota, Arkansas and Wyoming.

Conversely, the state with the highest smoking-related costs is Connecticut, followed by New York and District of Columbia. Other states at this end of the scale are Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Alaska, Hawaii, Minnesota, Vermont and Washington.

In terms of the average cost, this has been assessed as $1.9 million over the lifetime of an individual smoker. In terms of what an individual smoker will be shelling out in cigarettes and other tobacco products is $123,308 over a lifetime. Here there is some variation, with smokers in New York spending the highest amounts at $194,899, per person. The New York rate is 2.3 times higher than in Missouri, where smokers spend the lowest amounts at $86,001 per smoker.

With income losses, which will occur due to ill-health and being unable to work, a typical smoker incurs a typical income loss of $237,605 over a lifetime. Again, there is state-to -state variation, with smokers in Maryland losing the highest amount, at $321,977, per person. This is 1.9 times greater than in Mississippi ($171,397 per smoker).

With healthcare costs, each smoker incurs an average of $172,801 in smoking-related health-care costs over a lifetime. The highest levels are paid by those in Connecticut at $289,154. This figure is 2.5 times higher than in Kentucky (at $117,094).

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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