The True Cost of Tobacco Cigarettes


Let’s start with the basics and compare actual costs. Since I live in California, I will use our tobacco tax rate of $0.87 per pack, include the federal tax rate of $1.01 per pack, and add the average retail price to create a model.

If a pack of tobacco cigarettes costs $5.89, and the average smoker burns through one pack every day, as behavior studies indicate, an individual spends over $40.00 each week on cigarettes. That seems absurdly high, but we will just follow this formula through based on available statistics.

The exact cost calculated was $41.23 per week. Multiply this by 52 and we can deduce that the average tobacco smoker in California spends $2143.96 on cigarettes over the course of a year. That is another shocking number, but let’s continue from here.

Smokers looking for comprehensive health insurance will pay 15-20% more in premiums than those who do not smoke. If a policy is $500 per month for a non-smoker, the smoker would pay $100 more. That is a total of $1200 each year in increased premiums.

Those who smoke also experience more health issues. On average, smokers average more doctor appointments and require more prescription medications that non-smokers do. This cost cannot be accurately estimated, as the overall cost of cancer treatments, surgeries, respiratory treatments and coronary events are an unknown. Let’s move on.

Life insurance companies require screening for all applicants and a thorough medical history. Any smoking in the past decade will likely be documented, and a current smoker can expect to have much higher annual premiums, costing an average of $1000 more each year.

Homeowners insurance rates are also dependent on an individual’s lifestyle choices, much like life insurance. Non-smokers often receive a 10-15% discount on their policies. This means smokers pay an average of $200 more each year.

Dental health of smokers is more expensive, as smoking degrades gums and erodes tooth enamel. Special, extra deep cleanings and dental repairs are often a reality for smokers each year. We will average this as an additional $200 yearly.

Financially, smokers are looking at spending an average of $4700 each year to support and treat their tobacco habits. This number does not include any treatment related expenses resulting from tobacco use, including medications, additional doctor’s appointments, medical procedures or medical emergencies.

The reality is the true cost of smoking tobacco products cannot be accurately calculated over the lifetime of an individual user. There are just too many variables. We can accurately deduce, however, that smoking costs more than most understand. It costs financially, physically and socially.

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