Missouri Smokers Lose $1.7 Million in Health-Care Costs, Lost Wages: Study


Smoking: It'll cost ya! - MODI VIA FLICKR

Missouri may have some of the lowest cigarette prices in the country, but a new study says the hidden costs of smoking take a million dollars out of Missourians' wallets.

Personal finance website WalletHub calculated how much money smokers lose on health-care costs, income loss and increases in homeowner's insurance costs. The study even analyzes how much money smokers would earn if they invested in stock instead of dropping buckets on cigs.

See also: Smoking the Competition: St. Louis Named America's Top City for Smokers

The final total cost to smokers is relatively low in Missouri, which had the eighth lowest cost compared to other states. The most expensive state for smokers is Alaska, where cigarettes cost $9.79 per pack on average and smokers lose more than $2 million on smoking-related costs, according to the study. Smoking costs Missourians $1.17 million over a lifetime, according to WalletHub's calculations based on Missourians who smoke one pack a day starting at age 18 until the age of 69, the average age of death for smokers.

And that's a big chunk of change, especially since the typical smoker earns less than the typical non-smoker.

"Smoking in the U.S. today is concentrated among groups that are unemployed, lesser educated, economically poor, in poor mental health, exposed to stigma and/or racial or ethnic discrimination, or otherwise marginalized in society," says Dee Burton, associate director at Hunter College. "In sum, most of today's smokers lead highly stressed lives."

Smokers earn 8 percent less in salary than non-smokers because of their habit, according to a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. That means Missourians lose $190,291, or 8 percent of the median household income, from their paychecks, according to the study.

Smokers may earn less than non-smokers, but they're more likely to need money for health care. Smokers in Missouri spend an average of $151,417 on health care costs related to smoking, based on WalletHub's analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's data.

Missourians would earn $825,274 if they invested in the stock market instead of buying a pack a day. WalletHub calculated the average cost for a pack of cigarettes in Missouri, multiplied that by the total number of days in 51 years -- the average adult lifetime of a smoker -- and calculated the amount of return a person would earn through investing. WalletHub used the historical average market return rate for the S&P 500 minus the inflation rate.

Missourians also spend $10,248 on higher homeowner's insurance premiums and to pay for costs for second-hand exposure victims who need medical treatment, according to the study.

Here's the chart that shows the costs in each state:


Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at [email protected].

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