Over a lifetime, smokers in Arizona spend $1.6M
Among other things, smoking cigarettes can do some serious damage to one’s pocketbook, according to a recent study
Collectively, the 36.5 million smokers in the United States spend more than $300 billion in smoking-related costs a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
WalletHub, a personal finance website, has broken this cost down by state plus the District of Columbia. The company calculated the potential monetary losses — including both the lifetime and annual cost of a cigarette pack per day, health care expenditures, income losses and other costs — brought on by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
Arizona claimed the 35th spot on the list, with number one having the lowest cost and number 51 having the highest.
Over a lifetime, smokers in Arizona spend $1,631,475 on the habit, according to WalletHub. That total is derived from the following parts (with their national rankings in parenthesis):
• Out-of-pocket cost: $131,794 (36)
• Financial opportunity cost: $1,110,180 (36)
• Health-care cost per smoker: $172,767 (31)
• Income loss per smoker: $205,040 (21)
• Other costs per smoker: $11,693 (29)
This compares to Kentucky, which has the lowest total lifetime cost per smoker of $1,136,524, and New York, which has the highest total lifetime cost per smoker of $2,313,025.
Annually, the total smoking cost in Arizona comes to $31,990, according to the study.
Studies have shown there is a direct correlation between the rising cost of cigarettes and the product’s popularity. In fact, increasing the price of tobacco products is the single most effective way to reduce consumption, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
A 2012 report put out by the U.S. Surgeon General showed this correlation, stating that a 10 percent increase in price has been estimated to reduce overall cigarette consumption by 3 to 5 percent.
Overall, a 2011 report published by DHHS stated that nearly 7 in 10 (68.9%) adult cigarette smokers wanted to stop smoking and more than 4 in 10 (42.7%) adult cigarette smokers had made a quit attempt in the past year.
Cottonwood City Council made Arizona history by being the first municipality to pass “T-21,” the new ordinance prohibiting purchase or use of tobacco products by anyone under age 21 (90% of those smoking today began the habit before age 21).
Leading up to the unanimous passing vote, hearings included testimony from Yavapai Anti-Tobacco Coalition of Youth members.
One 16-year-old YATCY member read a letter from her mother, describing how she began smoking at an early age, decades of struggling to quit, and finally experiencing a whole year tobacco-free, inspired by her daughter’s involvement in the anti-tobacco group.
The mother happily enthused in her letter that “my skin, hair and nails look so much better!” after she stopped smoking.
Today, many more young people have the knowledge to never become a former tobacco user. For those still smoking, plenty of free help exists outside of the cold-turkey approach. Federal government requires each state to provide quitline services.
The University of Arizona’s College of Public Health founded ASHLine in 1995, and provides phone or web-based help in Spanish or English, 24 hours a day.
With ASHLine’s quit coach staff of undergraduates hearing the stories and struggles firsthand and able to respond with educated answers based on science and research, calls benefits both the smoker trying to quit and the coach on the other end of the line.
In some cases, the quit coach is a former smoker who has a passion to help others do the same.
After registration, coaches call individuals within 24 hours, and provide positive reinforcement and realistic steps to take, including medication assistance as in patches, lozenges, and gum.
Despite strong emotions from callers, quit coaches aren’t dismayed by failed past attempts and the dreaded cravings experienced in the withdrawal stage pass after 90 seconds - one encouraging fact listed on ASHLine’s site.
Yavapai County holds in-depth classes focusing on cessation tools such as breathing techniques and alternatives to medication in the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program.
To be included on a future class list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Verde Valley Medical Center offers an eight-session in-person “Freedom From Smoking” program. Contact Pamela Diffin in Respiratory at 928-639-5391.
-- Verde Independent Reporter Dan Engler contributed to this story.