By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
(NNPA) – With more than 34 million tobacco users in the United States, the estimated financial cost of smoking over a lifetime has reached above $2.3 million per smoker.
According to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based financial planning website WalletHub, the average out-of-pocket cost per smoker stands at $133,911 over a lifetime.
An analysis revealed that smokers in the District of Columbia would pay the highest cost, $197,801, two times higher than in Missouri, where smokers will pay the lowest price at $96,535.
Further, each smoker will incur an average of $545,166 in income loss over a lifetime. In the District of Columbia, those who smoke will lose the highest amount, $746,669, or 1.9 times higher than in Mississippi, where smokers will yield the lowest amount at $389,500.
Experts said each smoker would incur an average of $177,599 in smoking-related healthcare costs over a lifetime. Smokers in Massachusetts will pay the highest amount, $316,377, which is 2.6 times higher than in Arkansas, where smokers will pay the lowest amount at $120,430.
Further, WalletHub’s latest report quotes the American Lung Association, which stated that tobacco use accounts for nearly 500,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and ranks as the leading cause of lung cancer.
Those who smoke also may have an increased risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19. In addition, even those around tobacco smokers aren’t safe from its harmful effects. Since 1964, smoking-related illnesses have claimed over 20 million lives in the U.S., 2.5 million of which belonged to nonsmokers who developed diseases merely from secondhand smoke exposure.
However, the report revealed that the economic and societal costs are just as huge. Every year, smoking costs the U.S. more than $300 billion, including medical care and lost productivity. Unfortunately, some people will have to pay more depending on the state in which they live.
“Evidenced-based strategies, including the combination of FDA-approved medications like nicotine-replacement therapy and nicotine-free medications and behavioral support, increase the chances of successfully quitting,” stated Dr. Mary Rezk-Hanna, a WalletHub expert and assistant professor at the School of Nursing at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“Setting a quit date and sharing it with friends and loved ones for support increases the likelihood of quitting success. As far as the method, both quitting abruptly or gradually, by reducing smoking slowly until the quit date and then quitting, produce comparable cessation rates,” Dr. Rezk-Hanna remarked.
Dr. Steven A. Schroeder, the director of Smoking Cessation Leadership Center and a professor of health and health care at the University of California, San Francisco, said most smokers want to quit.
“But it often takes multiple attempts before quitting is achieved, often up to 20 or more,” Dr. Schroeder insisted.
“But the good news is that there are now more ex-smokers than current smokers. In addition, the odds of quitting are increased if the smoker gets counseling combined with smoking cessation medications such as nicotine replacement therapy and varenicline.
Unassisted quitting – or cold turkey – is less helpful and living with someone who smokes is also a handicap,” he concluded.