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Friday, November 26, 2004  

Health: Cost of smoking is high

I was out and about today. That meant being around smokers. I've also been doing additional research on Right Wing interests that use a handful of minority spokespersons to put a sympathetic face on their societally damaging practices. The tobacco industry is one of the worst of the lot. With tobacco on my mind already, it was with some interest that I read news about a study establishing just how costly smoking is to smokers.

The Associated Press reports.

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Cigarettes may cost smokers more then they believe. A study by a team of health economists finds the combined price paid by their families and society is about $40 per pack of cigarettes.

The figure is based on lifetime costs for a 24-year-old smoker over 60 years for cigarettes, taxes, life and property insurance, medical care and lost earnings because of smoking-related disabilities, researchers said.

"It will be necessary for persons aged 24 and younger to face the fact that the decision to smoke is a very costly one - one of the most costly decisions they make,'' the study's authors concluded.

Smokers pay about $33 of the cost, their families absorb $5.44 and others pay $1.44, according to health economists from Duke University and a professor from the University of South Florida. The study drew on data including Social Security earnings histories dating to 1951.

Incidental costs such as higher cleaning bills and lower resale values for smokers' cars were not included.

Most smoking studies rely on a snapshot of annual costs, said co-author B, an economics professor and the director of the Center for Health, Policy, Law and Management at Duke's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

Activism by health organizations to curb smoking and the government's ban of advertising tobacco products in some venues has been reasonably successful. According to the Centers for Disease Control, bout 22.5 percent of adults in America smoked as of 2002, a reduction from 24.1 percent in 1988. In 1955, 56.9 percent of American men and 28.4 percent of American women smoked. Though some in the tobacco industry stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the link between using their products and illnesses, including heart disease and lung cancer, Americans have gradually come to believe the relationship exists.

The 'bright' side of the study is that the cost of smoking to society is less than previously thought. That is because smokers die, often of diseases related to their habit, before expending monies from Social Security, Medicare and pensions. The cost to society is estimated at $1.44 per pack of cigarettes.

The researchers believe that more of the funds from the multi-state tobacco settlement in 1988 should go toward preventing smoking. Currently, most states do not target the monies to programs to prevent smoking.

10:30 PM