(WGHP) — Despite the state’s well-planted roots in the tobacco industry, the cost for smokers in North Carolina is near the lowest in the nation.
WalletHub, a personal-finance data aggregator that usually tells us the 10 best places to raise children or the 25 most reasonable housing markets or the rank of U.S. states for happiness, is out with new figures that are focused on a serious effort to change public health.
WalletHub said in a release it wants “to encourage 34.2 million tobacco users in the U.S. to kick this dangerous habit,” and that includes distributing pointed financial impacts that it says place the economic and societal costs of smoking at $300 billion per year nationally.
North Carolina is almost at the bottom for financial impact – to the tune of $36,842 per year per smoker. That’s fourth when ranked by the aggregated categories of cost per smoker, out-of-pocket costs, financial opportunity cost, health care cost per smoker, lost income and other expenses.
Only Georgia ($36,504), Mississippi ($36,614) and Missouri ($36,820) rank better on the average.
Here’s how North Carolina came out overall (rankings are based on 1st being the lowest):
- Out-of-pocket cost per smoker – $100,214 (Rank: 4th).
- Financial-opportunity cost per smoker – $1,048,404 (Rank: 4th).
- Health care cost per smoker – $136,613 (Rank: 11th).
- Income loss per smoker – $471,761 (Rank: 11th).
- Other costs per smoker – $11,427 (Rank: 18th).
- Total cost over lifetime per smoker: $1,768,420.
- Total cost per year per smoker: $36,842.
The costliest place for smokers is Washington D.C., where the lifetime annual cost per smoker is $3,313,530, and the total cost per smoker per year is $69,032.
DC is followed at the top by Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.
Among other legacy tobacco-growing states, Kentucky ranks eighth ($38,034) and Virginia 26th ($44,027) when ranked by average cost per year per smoker.
To reach these figures, WalletHub says it pulled together 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.”
The calculations assumed an adult smokes one pack of cigarettes per day, beginning at age 21 and assumed a lifespan of smoking to be 48 years. The average smoker dies at age 69.
You can read a full explanation of all the calculations, but in summary out-of-pocket costs are lifetime spending in buying cigarettes at a pack-a-day rate for 48 years.
That’s $2,088 per year for a North Carolinian.
Financial opportunity is the amount of interest a person could have earned by investing that money (S&P 500 rates), and health care costs per smoker are based on data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Income loss is based on lost wages because of health and based on a separate survey that found that smokers earn 18.1% less than nonsmokers. Other costs deal with financial benefits nonsmokers receive (such as cheaper insurance etc.).
The total cost of smoking was the sum of all the totals.