Smoking is an expensive habit — an average pack in New York can run upwards of $14. Over the course of a person's life, being a smoker could wind up costing more than $2 million, depending on which state they live in. This is according to a new report titled The Financial Cost of Smoking by State, released this week in time for Tobacco-Free Awareness Week. The study, conducted by personal-finance social network WalletHub, analyzed the financial toll of smoking in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. The researchers hope their findings will encourage the 45 million Americans who smoke cigarettes to quit.
To determine the total cost per smoker, the report estimated that an adult smokes one pack of cigarettes per day beginning at age 18 — the age a person can legally purchase tobacco products in the U.S. — and continues for 51 years (the average age of death in smokers is 69). The researchers tallied up tobacco costs, health-care costs, income loss, and "other" costs for each smoker.
Those "other" costs include the predicted homeowner's-insurance penalty for smoking and the losses for victims of second-hand smoke. (The study assumed a perfect society in which smokers would pay for the costs related to tobacco smoke in the air.) The CDC estimates that 88 million nonsmoking Americans, including 54% of children ages three to 11, are exposed to secondhand smoke.
The study found that in every state, smoking costs a person at least $1 million in his or her lifetime. The three overall most expensive states to be a smoker are Alaska ($2,032,916), Connecticut ($1,992,690), and New York ($1,982,856).
There is hope for a healthier (and less free-spending) world, though. The American Lung Association predicts that every dollar the government spends on providing tobacco cessation treatments has an average potential return on investment of $1.26. In other words, paying to help people quit smoking can ultimately boost the economy.