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MA Smokers Pay Over $2 Million for Smoking in Their Lifetime

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Smoking is bad for your health, it is also bad for your bank account, especially in Massachusetts.  

According to a recent study by WalletHub, Massachusetts residents spends $2,197,197 on smoking in their lifetime, the second most in the United States. 

“Every year, Americans collectively spend more than $300 billion, which includes “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.” Unfortunately, some people will have to pay more depending on the state in which they live,” said WalletHub. 

MA residents rank 50th in out of pocket cost, 50th in financial opportunity cost, 51st in healthcare cost per smoker, 45th in income loss per smoker, and 46th in other costs per smoker. 

The Rankings 

Massachusetts ranks 50th Rhode and Connecticut who rank 48th and 49th. Massachusetts ranks ahead of only New Yorkers who spend the most money. 

Smokers in Kentucky pay the least amount over a lifetime.

For the full rankings, see the map below. 

Source: WalletHub

The Method 

In order to assess the impact of tobacco use on a smoker’s finances over a lifetime, WalletHub’s analysts calculated the potential monetary losses — including the cumulative cost of a cigarette pack per day over several decades, health-care expenditures, income losses and other costs — brought on by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

For our calculations, we assumed an adult who smokes one pack of cigarettes per day beginning at age 18, when a person can legally purchase tobacco products in the U.S. We also assumed a lifespan thereafter of 51 years, taking into account that 69 is the average age at which a smoker dies.

Out-of-Pocket Costs

To determine per-person Out-of-Pocket Costs Over a Lifetime, we took the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in each state, multiplied that figure by the total number of days in 51 years. For Costs per Year, we multiplied the average cost by 365 days.

Financial Opportunity Cost

To determine the per-person Financial Opportunity Cost, we calculated the amount of return a person would have earned by instead investing that money in the stock market over the same period. We used the historical average market return rate for the S&P 500 minus the inflation rate during the same time period to reflect the return in present-value terms.

Health-Care Cost per Smoker

Direct medical costs to treat smoking-connected health complications are one of the biggest financial detriments caused by tobacco use. To calculate related health-care costs, we obtained state-level data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — namely the annual health care costs incurred from smoking — and divided that amount by the total number of adult smokers in each state.

Income Loss per Smoker

Previous studies have demonstrated that smoking can lead to loss of income — either because of absenteeism, workplace bias or lower productivity due to smoking-induced health problems — and create a wage gap between smokers and nonsmokers. To represent the negative relationship between earnings and smoking, we assumed an average 8 percent decrease in the median household income for each state. We arrived at this figure after accounting for the fact that, according to a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, smokers earn 20 percent less than nonsmokers, 8 percent of which is attributed to smoking and 12 percent to other factors.

Other Costs per Smoker

Nonsmokers are generally entitled to a homeowner’s insurance credit of between 5 and 15 percent, according to the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Given that fact, we assumed an 11.1 percent increase (i.e. the inverse of a 10 percent credit, or the average between the two percentages) in the average homeowner’s insurance premium for each state to represent the penalty cost for smokers.

We then took into account the costs for victims of secondhand-smoke exposure. To calculate these costs, we used the per-nonsmoker expenditure in the state of New York as a proxy. We then multiplied that figure by the number of nonsmokers in each state to obtain the total costs of exposure to secondhand smoke at the state level. Finally, we divided the resulting total by the number of smokers in each state. This approach assumes that, in a perfect society, smokers would also pay the costs related to the harmful smoke that tobacco releases into the air.

Formula for Financial Cost of Smoking

Financial Cost of Smoking = Out-of-Pocket Costs + Financial Opportunity Cost + Related Health-Care Costs + Income Loss Due to Smoking-Related Issues + Increase in Homeowner's Insurance Premium + Secondhand Smoke-Exposure Costs.


See 10 Tips to Finally Quit Smoking Below


Related Slideshow: 10 Tips to Finally Quit Smoking

Here are 10 tips to help you quit smoking. 

Prev Next

Pick a Date

Pick a quit date and put it on your calendar in ink— this is the starting point to making your plan.  Pretty much all of the experts agree that picking a date is the most important first step.  The key is to pick a date that is no more than one month away — if it is too far out, you will either lose your will or rationalize your way into an extension, and if it is too soon i.e. the nefarious tomorrow, you will only fail for lack of planning.  Everything that follows should be set up to make that quit date a success.

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Be honest with yourself.  Admit that you are an addict.  Own up to the seriousness and the entirety of your addiction.  If you are lying to yourself about how strong your addiction is, you won’t properly prepare yourself for quitting.  Instead you’ll set yourself up for failure.  Pay attention to how much you truly smoke — write it down, and prepare yourself to move on.

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Write down your triggers. One of the keys to successful quitting is to be thoroughly prepared for the things that set you off. Do you always smoke when you drink?  Every time you have a stressful encounter with your partner do you smoke to calm down?  By cataloging the things that get you jonesing for a cigarette, you will be able to systematically prepare other options for handling those situations.

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Plan Ahead

Plan for your triggers.  When the urge strikes and is overwhelming, what will you do instead of bumming or buying cigarettes?  Take up knitting so you have something to do with your hands.  Keep carrot sticks with you so you have something to munch on.  Munch on sunflower seeds.  Have a friend you can call.  Take a walk. Make sure you always have something on hand that you can use to distract you until the urge passes (and trust that it will pass).   

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Watch The Clock

In the week leading up to your quit date, begin to break your habit by smoking by the clock instead of by situation.  Most smokers smoke during or after certain events: the first cigarette when you wake up, a cigarette on the drive to work, a cigarette after lunch, another before the conference call and so on.  For this week parcel out your cigarettes according to the clock.  For instance, allow yourself one cigarette every two hours beginning at 6:00 am.  Stick to this within 5 minutes on either side.  If you wake up at 6:06, you missed your first cigarette and have to wait until 8:00.  If you miss your noon cigarette you must wait until 2:00 and so on.  It is the habit of smoking, the mental association between your tasks and stressors and smoking that is the hardest to break.  Doing this gives you a head start.  

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Get Support

Get support. For some of you that may mean talking to your doctor about medication or using the patch.  For others that may mean using acupuncture and herbs.  For some of you it will mean all of the above.  Both methods have much higher success rates at producing quitters than if you quit on your own.  There are also support groups and hotlines that offer instant help when you need it most.  Here are a few places to start:


Call your doctor or find an acupuncturist so they can help you with your plan.

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Avoid Your Other Vices

Avoid alcohol, smoking pot and other situations that you associate with smoking for 4-6 weeks while the quitting is the most difficult.  

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Throw Away the Past

The night before you quit get rid of your cigarettes, ash trays and lighters.  You need to make it at least moderately difficult to smoke. Quit carrying the cash you use to buy cigarettes. Avoid the store you stop at for a candy bar and cigarettes. Basically, put up as many obstacles as you can to smoking.

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Avoid Certain People

Avoid the people who trigger you (as much as possible).  If they are friends they will understand, and if they are jerks you should avoid them anyway.

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Treat Yourself

Give yourself rewards for quitting.  The most obvious is to take the money you would have spent on cigarettes and buy yourself a weekly or monthly celebratory treat. Somedays this might be the only thing that keeps you going.


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