Analysis: Smoking costs Georgians more than $2 million over a lifetime

More than 20 million people in the United States have died from smoking-related illnesses since 1964

Smoking isn’t just bad for your health. It’s also bad for your wallet, according to a new analysis from WalletHub.

More than 20 million people in the United States have died from smoking-related illnesses since 1964, according to Health and Human Services, and 2.5 million of those were nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke.

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WalletHub’s analysis shows the financial and societal costs of tobacco use are equally substantial.

The financial website analyzed the per-person cost of smoking in each state and the District of Columbia. It calculated both the potential lifetime and annual costs of a cigarette pack per day, health care expenditures, income losses and other costs both by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

According to the results, Georgia smokers can expect to pay $2,278,312 over a lifetime, factoring in the cost of cigarettes, lost opportunities, health care, lost income and other costs.

“A key point to remember is that most of the health threats from cigarettes come from the non-nicotine components (viz. the ‘tars’ amongst thousands of other chemicals),” Peter Killeen, Ph.D., emeritus professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University, told WalletHub. “Nicotine does not cause cancer; as far as we know it does not cause emphysema. It is more benign than over-indulgence in alcohol. It is a component in cigarettes that helps to make them addictive, but by itself creates only a dependency, not an addiction. It combines with other components in cigarettes to create an addictive product.”

That addiction costs Georgia smokers $47,465 a year, WalleHub found. The biggest chunk of that, however, is $31,216 for financial opportunity cost. To determine the individual financial opportunity cost, the financial website calculated the amount of return a smoker would have earned if they had instead investing that money in the stock market over the same period.

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Even if a smoker doesn’t invest the cost of cigarettes and earn that $31K, they still spend $16,249 a year on tobacco and related costs.

That equates to nearly 8,000 medium coffees from Dunkin, 78 years of Premium Netflix, a Tiffany & Co’s Elsa Peretti “Diamonds by the Yard” bracelet or a new 2022 Nissan Versa.

If you’re thinking of quitting, Christopher W. Kahler, Ph.D., told WalletHub you “have more ways than ever to get support. State quit lines and digital quit smoking programs like Smokefree.gov or BecomeAnEX offer free and readily available online information, individual and community support, and text messaging support programs.”

Kahler, a professor and chair in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University School of Public Health, added: “The key is to keep trying until a quit attempt sticks.”

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