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Smoking Costs the Average New York Smoker $2,313,025 Over a Lifetime

Seeing that it’s the new year and people are still looking for justifiable reasons to fulfill their resolutions, I figured that I would help encourage those people who gave up smoking. So often, people look towards the health hazards when it comes to smoking, but they don’t look at the financial pitfalls of the habit.

WalletHub has released a report that points to the staggering financial implications of smoking. State by State, they have broken down the yearly and lifetime costs (societal and economic) associated with smoking.

When a friend of mine moved back to Buffalo from Seattle a couple of years ago, one of the first things that she said to me was that she was surprised at how many people still smoked here. Before she mentioned that, I never thought much about it, because in my mind I didn’t see that many people smoking compared to when I was younger and it was legal to smoke in bars and restaurants. 

Also, a couple of my friends who once smoked cigarettes have now resorted to puffing on e-cigs. Of course there is still a major controversy swirling around the use of the electronic cigarette – it will be interesting to see how the e-cig fares as more studies are conducted. Recent reports don’t look to be that good. But if the e-cig can be used to ween smokers from smoking at all, maybe that’s another story.

It is estimated that there are 36.5 million tobacco users in the U.S.

Thanks to my friend’s observations on the number of local smokers she encountered, I felt inclined to post these statistics today, in hopes that those who were trying to kick the habit might be further encouraged to do so.

Following are just a few of the statistics, as they relate to smokers in New York State.

The below figures calculate the potential monetary losses — including the lifetime and annual costs of a cigarette pack per day, health care expenditures, income losses and other costs — brought on by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

The Financial Cost of Smoking in New York (1=Lowest, 25=Avg.): 

  • Out-of-Pocket Cost per Smoker – $194,341 (Rank: 51st)
  • Financial-Opportunity Cost per Smoker – $1,637,046 (Rank: 51st)
  • Health-Care Cost per Smoker – $226,057 (Rank: 47th)
  • Income Loss per Smoker – $241,818 (Rank: 36th)
  • Other Costs per Smoker – $13,764 (Rank: 42nd)
  • Total Cost Over a Lifetime per Smoker: $2,313,025
  • Total Cost per Year per Smoker: $45,353

For the full report, click here.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • Wise Profit

    Have to love studies like this. Somehow it “costs” more than most people even make in a lifetime, or two, The assumptions used are about as aggressive as you could make them and this also doesn’t take into account what minimal positive impact is had by putting taxes in state coffers along with the jobs that the industry creates.

  • Wally Balls

    How about this for a take? WHO CARES. I’m a former cigarette smoker and current cigar smoker. People who some how think my smoking in my personal and private live is somehow their business are the worst people in the world. Live your life, I’ll live mine.

    • Ivan Putski Jr

      no doubt…i never wear my seat belt and I’m proud of it. USA

      • Wally Balls

        That’s pretty much my point. I don’t care if you don’t wear a seatbelt, its not my business. If you want to eat chocolate cake for dinner everyday and blow up to 600 lbs, you’re free to do so.

  • Buffalo Resurrection

    I am from a family of smokers, so much so that it was my job to remove the batteries from the smoke detector during family gatherings when the stairwell channeled all of the smoke up to the detector and it would scream.
    Hacking-up phlegm and spitting (goobers, as we referred to them) was a common occasion from my Grandfather and Father. The latter at the kitchen table during the supper hour.
    My Grandfather slowly and painfully suffocated to death as his lung capacity diminished, fortunately, I missed most of that as I was in the Air Force at that time.
    My Father, who smelled like a dirty ash tray but yet still attracted women, developed classic smokers cancer: mouth and throat. He claimed it was from acid reflux but, whatever you need to tell yourself and I truly believe smokers live in their own state – the state-of-denial.
    However, do not misunderstand me, I am neither pro or con and if a person makes a choose to smoke that is their business and like Pope Francis II, I am not here to judge.
    Incidentally, if you’re wondering, I never smoked (go figure?).
    And, may you e-cig never exploded in your jeans!

  • BuffaloGals

    While I’m not a smoker and am all for taxing cigarettes, and heavily restricting where you can smoke and whatnot, I certainly understand people whose sentiment is “what I do with my life is none of your business.” I also question the “lost income” aspect of these studies. Without diving into the methodology of them, aren’t these factors based on “smokers make $x per year, non-smokers make $x per year”? Couldn’t this more accurately indicate that lower income makes you more likely to smoke, than indicate that smoking makes you more likely to have a lower income?

    • internetdudeman

      //”I certainly understand people whose sentiment is “what I do with my life is none of your business.”//

      I respect that as an intellectual argument, but the folks making this claim (especially with cigarette smoking) neglect the tangible public harm that exercising their free choice brings about. They see their freedom existing in a vacuum when it rarely does.

      The decisions you make become other peoples’ business when your decisions are imparting societal costs which other people are paying for. For example, cigarette smoking is directly or indirectly responsible for about 10% of healthcare costs in the US which adversely affects premiums at a societal level. We are all paying the price because of the freedom to make this choice, although I somewhat cringe to call it strictly choice, because it is really a substance use disorder and is far beyond a simple choice like “should I eat an orange or apple.”

      • LongGoneeee

        You make an interesting point about how smoking cigarettes is directly or indirectly responsible for a % of healthcare costs. To that point, isn’t the majority of heath care costs directly or indirectly attributed to poor life decisions?

        Look at it from the other end of the spectrum. How much is spent on health care for people who eat right, work out and work on finding balance in their lives…their entire adult lives? My guess would be not that much.

        Now how much is spent on people who don’t ever work out, eat processed foods, high volumes of sugar/corn sugar, drink, do drugs, work too much…etc?

        Is a smoker costing your more than obese parents who feeds their family as they eat…and thus grating a new batch of obese people?

        We all pay the price for other actions. But for whatever reason you can yell at a smoker but can’t yell at a whale gulping down a big mac.

        FWIW, I am a non-smoker.

        • Well, possibly it’s because that Big-Mac-eating-whale won’t give you a higher risk for…oh, I dunno…say obesity-related-heart-attacks while the smoker (secondhand smoke) can force a higher risk of lung cancer onto people who chose to avoid that risk by not smoking themselves?

  • UrbanLove

    I wonder how much people in Buffalo spend on drinking over lifetime.

  • rubagreta

    This is fake news.

    Smokers pay a ton in cigarette taxes to the government that would have to be raised some other way. And many die before they collect a penny in social security, Medicaid and Medicare. In fact, if you want to save social security, Medicaid and Medicare, encourage people to smoke two packs a day.

    PS – I hate the smell of cigarette smoke.

    • BuffaloGals

      I don’t think you know what “fake news” is. For one thing, this is a blog. For another, they simply shared the results of another study. For a third thing, it never said anything about taxes, other than factoring taxes into what smokers’ costs would be. For a fourth thing, if smokers are uninsured or underinsured, and need treatment for complications from smoking, those costs fall onto everyone else, so your last point doesn’t make sense.

      • rubagreta

        The cost of dying of lung cancer at age 63, is a lot cheaper than the cost of 25 years of social security, medicare and medicaid payments, including possible years in a nursing home at over $100,000/year. Get it?

        Forget fake news. This was a fake study that did not provide the entire picture.

    • Rory

      They buy them on the reservation. I don’t know anyone who is paying ‘a ton in cigarette taxes’ around here.

  • charlie

    2 years ago I was spending $3.000 a year to smoke a carton a week here in Michigan. After 6 weeks of dual using I was off cigarettes and only vaping. I feel better and save money, a lot of money. A year supply of ingredients for e liquid I make at home costs $30. Any smoker can do the same. Making e liquid is nothing more than mixing ingredients and giving the bottle a shake. Tobacco is doomed because of the cost advantage of vaping and because vaping is a superior experience that makes the former smoker immune to relapse. The biggest beneficiaries of this are the children of parents who switch to vaping as I did and mix at home as I do. That is a lot of money to make a better life for the kids and NOBODY should try to interfere.

    • greenca

      You’re pretty funny. All your posts on many blogs are about “vaping.” It may be better than smoking, but still looks absolutely ridiculous. You must be on the eCig trade council or something.

      • charlie

        The first time I saw someone vaping, several years ago, I asked myself, why is that guy sucking on a shoebox with a pipe fitting on the end? A few months later I was not a smoker any more. I don’t care what it looks like, don’t care what other people think, I feel better, same thousands of dollars a year and, best of all, I’m not dead.

        I have no relationship with the ecig business. They wouldn’t be happy with a lot of my positions on certain vaping issues. And vaping is so inexpensive there would be very few vape shops if everybody did it like me. How about let’s end the Tobacco Age everywhere in the world but do it by persuasion, not crippling taxes and abuse. I want to vape in peace and give every smoker the option to do the same. All governments need to do to save lives is shut up and butt out.

    • Wally Balls

      He’s right; after nearly a decade of cigarettes and then quitting, I vaped all summer. Loved it. And didn’t want a cigarette once.