Image: Pixabay /markusspiske
Cigarettes are expensive – and not just on your wallet. Smoking contributes to billions in medical care costs in the United States.
World No Tobacco Day is observed on May 31st in a campaign to urge people around the world to quit smoking and chewing tobacco. The day was established with the aim of drawing attention to smoking’s detrimental effects on health and well-being. Nearly six million deaths are attributable to tobacco-related causes each year, according to estimates from the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Smoking Comes at a Price
The costs associated with smoking aren’t just physical. According to WalletHub, the average American smoker will spend roughly $50,000 over the course of his or her lifetime–all to maintain a deadly habit. Smoking represents a huge financial burden, not just for smokers themselves, but on a much larger scale. Relative to nonsmokers, smokers incur significantly higher healthcare costs over their lifetime and these costs weigh heavily on our healthcare system. The CDC estimates that the annual cost of smoking totals “nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults” and “more than $156 billion in lost productivity due to premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke.”
Big Tobacco: Through The Years
Since the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking in 1964, about 37 million Americans have quit. Before releasing the report, then-U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry held a press conference, kicking off one of our country’s most intense and successful public health campaigns to date. NPR’s story about the anti-smoking campaign offers an interesting glimpse into what the U.S. was like during that time. For example, the story notes that the surgeon general’s report was intentionally released over the weekend in an attempt to minimize the report’s potential impact on tobacco company stocks. In contrast, major tobacco companies like Philip Morris now finance advertising campaigns to educate consumers about the dangers of tobacco.
More recent developments include Minor League Baseball instituting a ban on chewing tobacco in 1993, the IOC’s implementation of a tobacco-free policy at Olympic Games venues, and Reynolds American (the manufacturer of Camel cigarettes) prohibiting its employees from smoking in the workplace in 2014.
I Wish I Could Quit You
The CDC estimates that 42 million people in the United States still smoke cigarettes regularly, despite the well-publicized risks of doing so. It’s true that quitting smoking is extremely challenging–some even say that highly-addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine are easier to nix than your occasional nicotine habit.
Statistics show that those who want to quit smoking are more likely to be successful if they use a form of OTC nicotine replacement therapy, such as Nicorette gum, or nicotine lozenges and patches. (Nicorette Gum helped President Obama kick the habit in 2012, according to former First Lady Michelle Obama).
If you’re one of the 30 million Americans who are currently attempting to quit, consider taking advantage of your state’s quitline, which is free of charge to callers. Not only can state quitlines help smokers access nicotine replacement aids, but they can provide those aspiring to quit with more information about various quitting strategies, based on the latest research on the physiological and psychological mechanisms which underpin addiction.