Years ago a group of tobacco executives appeared before a congressional hearing, placed their left hand on the Bible, raised their right hand and swore that tobacco products were neither addictive nor harmful to your health. Of course everyone including smokers knew this was a big lie. Unfortunately, many young people still believe that smoking cigarettes is ‘cool’ and makes them feel (and look) like adults. That is –until their teeth turn yellow, they figure out people are keeping their distance because of bad breath and they realize that they can no longer control the habit. I remember once being in a quick mart and having someone come in and order a carton of cigarettes. He was on oxygen and toting an oxygen bottle at the time. One of my associates who quit smoking five years ago based on my challenge (with a monetary reward!) said that she occasionally still has urges to smoke a cigarette, “As long as her leg!” Tobacco is as addictive as any drug.
We all know that smoking is a universally bad idea, but did you ever stop to think about the true costs of smoking? Is it nothing more than the cost of a $5 pack of cigarettes per day? Here’s a partial lists:
- A twenty-year-old who gave up a $5 per day habit and invested the money at 7.5% would have $1 million by age 70. Reverse thinking would suggest that continuing smoking costs this person a million dollars over their lifetime. And this assumes the cost of cigarettes stays constant.
- Research indicates that smokers on average die nineteen years sooner than non-smokers.
- In Alabama, research suggests that for every pack of cigarettes sold, and additional dollar will be spent on healthcare treatment related to tobacco use.
- There are fewer job opportunities for smokers as many employers avoid hiring smokers for a number of reasons. First, smokers tend to need to take ‘smoking breaks’ throughout the workday which is both unproductive and unfair to non-smoker employees. Second, smokers tend to have greater health related illnesses causing greater absenteeism and higher healthcare costs.
- Life insurance premiums are much higher for smokers than for non-smokers. For example, a $1 million 20-year term policy on a 30-year old smoker cost $1,500 versus $435 per year for a non-smoker.
These are just some of the personal costs of smoking. There are also the health-related side effects to unborn children as well as people exposed to second hand smoke. Tobacco is clearly one product with virtually no redeeming personal or social values. Research does suggest that the rising cost of cigarettes does cause decreased use. If, at the state level, we were to raise the tax on cigarettes and ban use in all public places we could positively impact health, healthcare costs and our economy. With elections right around the corner, this would be an excellent topic to add to the list of issues for our legislators.
If you have avoided the habit or beaten the habit, pass this article along to a smoker that you care about. You may just save their life and make him or her a millionaire!