WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The CDC reports roughly 34.2 million U.S. adults currently smoke cigarettes.
Nearly half of them are living with a smoking-related disease. But smoking doesn’t take just a physical toll. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller looks at the financial cost behind tobacco use.
Having a cigarette in his hand has been the norm for 34-year-old Anthony Gentile nearly half his life. “I spend maybe 3… $400 every six months,” he said.
He realizes what his tobacco habit is doing to his finances. “It’s killing my pocket. It’s burning a hole right through my pocket,” Mr. Gentile said.
But just how much for a lifelong Pennsylvania smoker might surprise you. The personal finance website WalletHub looked at The Real Cost of Smoking by State. It considered such things as price per pack, healthcare costs and lost income. It calculated a Pennsylvania pack a day smoker for 51 years will spend nearly $150,000 on tobacco, rack up more than $180,000 on related healthcare costs and nearly $250,000 on lost income.
It also looked at the cost of financial opportunity had that money been invested in the stock market. That totaled another $1.3 million. The final tally? Smoking costs the average Pennsylvania smoker $1.9 million in a lifetime.
38-year-old John Dunaj only smokes Newports. When told of the staggering cost per smoker he said, “I wouldn’t doubt that for a bit. Now, it’s $10 a pack, you know.”
Anthracite News Stand in downtown Wilkes-Barre sells more than 100 different brands of cigarettes ranging from $5.75 to more than $10.00 per pack. Co-owner Ann Marie Bossard said there is no shortage of customers. “There’s a lot of them that do this. Some people that buy three packs a day,” she said. When asked if it surprised her that they would spend so much, Ms. Bossard replied, “No, it doesn’t because it adds up every day.”
Even though smoking is popular in Pennsylvania, the WalletHub survey finds it only ranks 38th when it takes into account all 50 states and the District of Columbia. With the economic and societal costs of smoking topping $300 billion a year nationally, the WalletHub survey is extra incentive to help smokers like Mr. Gentile kick the habit. “It’s bad. I want to quit. I’m trying,” he said.
New York ranked the most expensive state in the nation at nearly $2.5 million per lifetime smoker. North Carolina was the least expensive at $1.2 million.