Financial, Physical and Social Costs of Smoking

The cost of smoking cigarettes is not only a daily financial cost, it can lead to higher costs for health and life insurance, high health care costs due to smoking-related diseases, and exposes your loved ones to the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke that have negative impacts on their health.

Financial Costs

Smoking can be expensive, for some, finances may be a motivation to quit. Let’s say that we spend approximately $7 per pack of cigarettes as an average in Washington State; if I smoke around 2 packs a day, I’m spending almost $400 dollars a month! (That’s $14/day multiplied by 28 days in one month). That’s a car payment, airplane ticket, box seats at a Seahawks game; ultimately, it’s more money in your bank, if you aren’t spending it on cigarettes.

As a smoker, you are also charged higher rates for health and life insurance policies. Smokers are considered higher risk candidates for these types of insurance because of the increased risks of serious chronic illnesses, and the increased medical costs throughout our lifespan.

Physical and Social Costs

The cost of cigarettes is not only a financial burden, your health, the health of others, and the health of society is also affected. Secondhand smoke (SHS), affects everyone around you; it can be harmful to loved ones, co-workers, and your community. A common misconception is that secondhand smoke is not as harmful as directly smoking a cigarette, in reality; secondhand smoke can be just as dangerous as mainstream smoke. Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is a mixture of two types of smoke that come from a cigarette:

  • Mainstream: Mainstream smoke is inhaled directly by the smoker from the cigarette
  • Side-stream: Side-stream smoke is the smoke that escapes from the lit end of the cigarette; this smoke contains a higher concentration of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) than mainstream. These carcinogens are also smaller particles than in mainstream smoke so they make their way into lungs more easily.
    • Side-stream smoke makes up 85% of the ETS in a smoky room, making it the bulk of the smoke that non-smokers encounter.

Secondhand Smoke (SHS) is classified to be a “known human carcinogen” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the US National Toxicology Program. SHS has been linked to lung cancer, childhood leukemia, and cancers of the larynx, pharynx, brain, bladder, rectum, stomach, and breasts. SHS has also been related to other illnesses and deaths. Each year, in the U.S. alone, SHS is responsible for: approximately 46,000 deaths from heart disease in people who did not smoke, about 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults, up to 1 million children with worsened or new asthma problems, and between 150,000 and 300,000 lung and bronchus infections in children under the age of 18. SHS is also responsible for over $10 billion dollars of extra medical care costs due to SHS related illnesses and deaths.

Find out more about the effects of SHS and how to prevent them at the American Cancer Society

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