How much is that smoke worth to you? Over a lifetime a Pa. smoker will fork out $1.9M, report |Thursday Morning Coffee

January 16, 2020 7:28 am

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

It’s already pretty well-established that tobacco-smoking is ruinous to not only your own health, but to the health of those around you. Smoking accounts for nearly 500,000 deaths a year in the United States. The leading cause of death is lung cancer, according to the American Lung Association.

All told, 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,” according to researchers at the financial literacy site, WalletHub.

But smoking also comes with an economic cost, from lost productivity and wages to healthcare costs and the consumer cost of smoking. To drive home that cost, WalletHub’s wonks took those metrics — and others — and ranked each state by the per-person cost of smoking.

Read on to see where Pennsylvania finished on the list.

Source: WalletHub

In Pennsylvania, over a lifetime, smoking costs $1.9 million per-person, according to the WalletHub analysis.

Pennsylvania ranked 40th nationwide for the out-of-pocket costs of smoking, at $149,851, and 36th in health care cost, per-smoker, at $181,156, the analysis found. The state finished 30th nationwide, at $248,892, for the income lost over a lifetime for each smoker, the analysis found.

Calculated over a year, smoking costs $37,334, per-person in Pennsylvania, the WalletHub analysis found. And it accounts for $4,872 a year in lost income, the analysis concluded.

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Asked by WalletHub’s researchers how state and local authorities could encourage people to quit smoking, and whether there was a role for employers and health insurance companies, one expert said education is the key.

“Education should continue concerning the health risks of smoking cigarettes but consumers also need to be educated about the alternatives. We know that some treatments and programs work. State and local authorities, employers and insurance companies can all help to make treatments easily available and affordable and educate the consumer,” University of Pennsylvania psychiatry professor Teresa R. Franklin told WalletHub.

“In the long run, it will cost everybody less. The cost to society of cigarette smoking in medical care and lost productivity in the workplace is astronomical (the CDC estimates over 300 billion dollars a year in the U.S. alone),” Franklin continued. “Today’s smoker thinks that the only way out is to switch to e-cigarettes and then wean off. But multiple studies have shown that the patch is effective for some, nicotine gum for others, and Chantix is, so far, the most effective smoking cessation agent. Joining a Quit Smoking Program is paramount to those who have tried and failed. The trick is to keep on trying. Learn the triggers, avoid them and find the product that works for you.”

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Facing a veto threat, the Pa. House has approved a bill blocking Gov. Tom Wolf from closing centers for the intellectually disabled, Stephen Caruso reports. And after years of trying, the House has finally passed a ban on handheld cell phone useCaruso further reports. But this being Pennsylvania, it’s not as straightforward as you’d think.

State corrections officials have recommended shuttering a state prison in Luzerne County. But Gov. Tom Wolf will have the final word, Elizabeth Hardison reports. And a statewide appeals board has ruled that charter school management companies don’t have the same rights as charter schoolsHardison also reports.

A new state Dept. of Banking and Securities program is aiming to boost financial literacy and savings for Pa. women, Associate Editor Cassie Miller reports. Miller also has some endorsement news in the race for Auditor General (Yes, you can say race, auditor and general in the same sentence — almost).  And in this week’s edition of the Numbers RacketMiller runs down some eye-popping State Police drug bust data.

Actor and activist Alyssa Milano has launched a fund-raising drive to flip three states that went for Donald Trump in 2016: Michigan, Wisconsin, and yep, you guessed it, Pennsylvania. We’ll have to see how … Charmed … that effort ends up being.

And as impeachment heads to the Senate, Pa. Dems on Capitol Hill are calling for witnesses and transparency, while GOP lawmakers are right where you’d expect them to be, Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender reports.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune, reporter Ayanna Jones profiles a Koch Industries-backed effort to get jobs for the formerly incarcerated.

On our Commentary Page, opinion regular Bruce Ledewitz wonders what the American mission in Iraq is: Liberator, or occupier? And when it comes to politics, ignorance is definitely not bliss, observes David DeWitt, of our sibling site, the Ohio Capital Journal.

Y en la Estrella-Capital, El comité de la Cámara de Pa. adelanta proyectos de ley que amplían las sanciones por trata de humanos, escribo Stephen Caruso.

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Spotlight PA
 explains how youth groups are ‘skirting’ a Pa. law that’s designed to protect children from abuse.
Pittsburgh City Paper looks at who’s using medical marijuana — and why they’re using it.
Half of all killings in Harrisburg last year went unsolved, PennLive reports.
The Morning Call’s Paul Muschick isn’t a fan of Rep. Stephanie Borowicz’s resolution praising the U.S. assassination of an Iranian military commander. Quite reasonably, he asks, as we did earlier this week, don’t lawmakers have better things to do?

WHYY-FM explains why some residents of Philadelphia’s Chinatown oppose a new station at Franklin Square.
Pennsylvania provides ‘some of the worst opportunities,’ for students of color, Keystone Crossroads reports (via WITF-FM).
Attorney General Josh Shapiro is officially running for re-electionPoliticsPA reports.
Property taxes are ‘sinking’ farmers, reports.
After a decade, super PACs are often ‘maligned,’ but still a fact of life in politics, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
The House Democratic Policy Committee, for some reason, holds a 3 p.m. public hearing in Philadelphia. Worthy cause: Disabilities issues. But must they rev up the per-diems machine to do it, one cannot help but wonder?

Gov. Tom Wolf 
continues to insist on not having a public schedule today.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s some new music from Easy Life, it’s the very danceable ‘Nice Guys.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
got past Montreal 4-1 in an Original Six match on Wednesday night.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.