It would be easier and faster for Texas smokers to build up their retirement savings if they quit smoking and used the money they spend on cigarettes to invest in the stock market, according to a new study.
“The main benefits of quitting smoking are health-related,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with WalletHub. “Aside from that, there are also financial benefits that you can easily see when you look at the out-of-pocket costs of smoking in a year.”
WalletHub’s The Real Cost of Smoking by State study found that Texas ranked No. 23 out of 51 states when it comes to cost per smoker, which is $2,083,835.
“Texans are in the middle of the pack when it comes to the total financial cost of smoking, which includes the actual cost of a pack of cigarettes, the potential return earned if the money spent on cigarettes would have been invested, but also healthcare costs or income loss due to smoking issues,” Gonzalez told The Dallas Express.
At $1,752,212, Georgia is the state with the lowest total financial cost per smoker, according to WalletHub data.
“Texas would need to improve across the board to catch up with Georgia,” Gonzalez said in an interview. Texas would need to have lower out-of-pocket costs, a lower financial opportunity cost, and lower healthcare costs. It would also need to have a lower homeowners insurance premium, less income loss due to smoking issues, and a lower cost of secondhand smoking.”
Smoking issues that can lead to loss of income include absenteeism and lower productivity due to smoking-related health problems, according to Gonzalez, and smokers earn 18.1% less than non-smokers.
“Obviously, smoking kills, as we all know,” she said. “There are several health issues caused by smoking, and smokers generally have a shorter lifespan. Plus, they stand to lose a significant amount of money over the years, not only for cigarettes, but also in hospital bills or home insurance penalties, among others.”
The study further found that the financial opportunity cost is $1,257,352 over 48 years for Texas. That’s compared to $1,013,579 in Georgia on the low end and $2,069,315 in Washington, D.C. on the high end.
“People usually gain weight when they quit smoking because they replace that habit with eating,” Gonzalez said. “To prevent that, they should try to control impulse eating, and maybe start working out, or take up a new hobby to keep them busy.”
There are some 66,000 adult cigarette smokers in D.C. compared to more than 2.7 million in Texas and 1.2 million in Georgia, according to the CDC.
Although there are more smokers in Texas than in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital registered the highest costs per smoker at $3,313,530.
“This means that all the costs incurred and derived from smoking are higher in D.C. than anywhere else in the country,” Gonzalez said.
On average, a pack of cigarettes in Georgia costs $5.50, $6.86 in Texas, and $11.30 in D.C.
The study also found that Georgia’s other costs are nearly $13,000, and D.C.’s other costs are a little more than $15,000, which are both significantly lower than $17,786 in Texas.
“The other costs per smoker refer to the homeowner’s insurance premium and secondhand smoking,” Gonzalez added. “The homeowner’s insurance premium in Texas, in particular, is very high, at more than $10,000 during a lifetime. Because non-smokers are generally entitled to a homeowner’s insurance credit, we considered a penalty cost for smokers for home insurance.”