The World Health Organization considers tobacco use one of the biggest public health threats in the world.
In fact, according to a 2017 WHO report, more than 7 million people die every year due to tobacco use, costing households and governments more than $1.4 trillion in healthcare costs and productivity loss, not to mention the more than 7,000 toxic chemicals in tobacco waste that poison the environment and contribute to 16 percent of all noncommunicable disease deaths.
But what’s the real financial cost of smoking in your state?
To find out, analysts over at personal finance website WalletHub examined “the true per-person cost” of smoking in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia by assuming an adult who smokes one pack of cigarettes per day starts at age 18 and lives to age 69, the average age at which a smoker dies.
They calculated potential monetary losses, including out-of-pocket costs (i.e. cost of cigarette pack per day); the financial opportunity cost based on the amount of return an individual would have earned if he or she had invested the money in the stock market; direct medical costs based on annual state-level data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention divided by total number of smokers per state; income loss per smoker due to being absent, workplace bias or low productivity and other costs, which may include the homeowner’s insurance penalty cost for smokers and costs for victims of secondhand-smoke exposure.
According to WalletHub, the real lifetime cost of smoking per smoker in Georgia is $1,396,882, a yearly cost of $27,390. The Peach State is actually the least costly of all the 50 states (and D.C.), followed by Missouri and North Carolina.
In 2017, WalletHub reported Georgia’s lifetime cost per smoker to be $1,155,351.
Compare Georgia’s figures to the lifetime cost of smoking in Connecticut, which is $2,854,614 (or $55,973 per year).
Here’s more on how Georgia fared:
- Overall rank: 1
- Total cost per smoker: $27,390
- Out-of-pocket cost (and rank): $1,712 (2)
- Financial opportunity: $18,839 (2)
- Health care: $2,361 (4)
- Income loss: $4,238 (19)
- Other costs: $239 (28)
- Overall rank: 1
- Total cost per smoker: $1,396,882
- Out-of-pocket cost (and rank): $87,304 (2)
- Financial opportunity: $960,789 (2)
- Health care: $120,432 (4)
- Income loss: $216,146 (19)
- Other costs: $12,211 (28)
According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. with more than 480,000 annually reported deaths (nearly one in five deaths) and 16 million Americans suffering with at least one disease caused by smoking. Smoking tobacco is the leading cause of lung cancer as well.
Since 1964, according to the American Lung Association, smoking-related illnesses have killed more than 20 million lives in the U.S. And 2.5 million were nonsmokers who developed diseases from secondhand-smoke exposure.
All of this costs the country more than $300 billion in direct medical, economic and social costs.
Nationwide, according to 2015 data, 31.4 percent of U.S. high school youth reported using a tobacco product and 10.8 percent reported smoking cigarettes. Approximately 37.8 million Americans still use tobacco.
In Georgia, approximately 11,700 adults die from smoking-related illnesses every year, according to CDC data.
In 2015, 17.7 percent of adults in the state smoked cigarettes. In 2009, Georgia spent $3.2 billion on smoking-related healthcare costs.
While the state doesn’t have a comprehensive smoke-free law to protect folks from secondhand smoke everywhere, five Georgia cities, one county, 33 University of Georgia campuses, 163 hospitals and 116 public school districts have adopted either tobacco-free or smoke-free policies.
Many local restaurants, parks and other areas have also adopted policies to prevent harm from secondhand smoke.
The CDC offers tips for smokers who want to quit, including a hotline for referrals to local resources (1-800-784-8669), best practices guidelines and more at CDC.gov.
“People who smoke have a responsibility to try and quit, and we as a community have a responsibility to pressure states to support quitting by increasing the cost of tobacco products,” East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine professor Joseph G. L. Lee said in a statement to WalletHub. Additionally, he said, “states that do not yet have clean air laws for bars, restaurants, and workplaces should adopt these laws. Companies should support their employees who smoke in quitting by making sure their smoking cessation benefits are strong and by adopting tobacco-free policies.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.
Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.