If you think the cost of smoking ends at the drug store checkout counter, think again. Every year, cigarettes cause both smokers and non-smokers significant financial and physical harm through insurance premiums, health care costs, cancer-related diseases and afflictions, and preventable deaths.
According to the American Cancer Society, smoke-related health concerns and diseases cost the U.S. an estimated $96 billion in insurance premiums and health care costs each year, compared to France’s $16.6 billion and the United Kingdom’s $9.5 billion. These absurd, unnecessary expenditures cause missed opportunities for programs and services for improved education, rural development, and more.
As the number one preventable cause of death in this country, smoking has been linked to a number of diseases and illnesses, such as heart disease, asthma, colon cancer, cervical cancer, blindness, throat cancer, diabetes, obesity, and an assortment of other complications. One unexpected cost that many smokers have faced in recent years is in higher insurance premiums, according to The New York Times. In fact, insurance policies that penalize smokers have doubled across the nation in the past two years and are expected to heavily increase in the years to come. Companies like Home Depot and General Mills have defended their right to impose higher insurance costs on employees who smoke, with even corporate bigwigs like Wal-Mart adding a $2,000-a-year surcharge for employees who smoke.
As the federal health care law currently stands, U.S. companies may require employees who fail to pass required health standards up to 20% more on insurance premiums, and that number can potentially rise an additional 30% by 2014, doubling the premium costs for many smokers and nonsmokers.
While the cigarette industry has helped bolster the economy for many years, the hidden toll it takes on our health insurance policies and livelihood is too huge to be ignored. Indeed, there are many reasons to avoid or quit smoking, as it affects your pocketbook, insurance costs, and overall life expectancy.
If you’re looking for methods or tips on how to quit smoking, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
The following informative video delves into these hidden costs of smoking, and unearths some surprising, relevant pieces of information. There’s the well-known cost that smoking can have on a person’s health, but many people are unaware of the cost that smoking can cause cigarette by cigarette.
- Video Transcript
- Health: F
- Locally: (F)
- Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease, 2 to 4 times more likely to have a stroke, and 12 to 13 times more likely to die from chronic obstructive lung diseases.
- Globally: (F)
- There are 1.1 billion smokers in the world – putting 15% of the world at great health risk. In fact, 5 million people reportedly die each year from disease brought on by smoking, and the number is expected to rise to 10 million by 2020 – making smoking the 1 killer compared to any other single disease.
- Economy: D
- Locally: (F)
- The average smoker spends $1,500 per year on cigarettes – and upwards of $3,300 per year in states with the highest cigarette taxes. Plus, smokers often are expected to cough up an extra $240 - $600 per year in health care costs because of the habit.
- Globally: (C-)
- Smoking costs the economy $96 billion in medical costs and $97 billion yearly in lost productivity. On the other hand, the American government rakes in $25 million a year in tobacco taxes and cigarette companies are making upwards of $614 billion per year worldwide – revenue that provides jobs for tens of thousands of people.
- Environment: D-
- Locally: (F)
- While a small amount, each cigarette smoked pollutes the air with formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, radioactive polonium, and more. Also, cigarette butts take 6 months to break down in soil.
- Globally: (D)
- One tree is destroyed per 300 cigarettes smoked. Cigarette manufactures devour four miles of paper every hour to produce cigarettes. One study shows 10-20 million people in poverty worldwide are denied food because their nearby farming soil is used to grow tobacco for cigarettes.
- Final Grade: D-