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Week 09/16/96

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Calculating the Cost of Cigarette Smoking

The American Cancer Society has documented that "Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemical compounds including at least 43 different carcinogenic substances. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society. Tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States. Smokers lose an average of 15 years of life. In addition to being responsible for 87% of lung cancers [men and women combined], smoking is also associated with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, uterus, cervix, kidney, and bladder.

The 1992 Surgeon General's Report estimates that the total lifetime excess medical care costs for smokers exceed those for nonsmokers by $501 billion. The US Congressional Office of Technology Assessment estimates that cigarettes cost Americans $68 billion annually in tobacco related health care costs and lost productivity. The cost of treating smoking-related diseases & lost productivity amounts to $2.59 for each pack of cigarettes sold in the U.S."

A one-pack-per-day smoking habit (average of $1.40/pack) costs the smoker in cigarette purchases alone about $511 annually. Over 20 years, that same habit will have cost over $10,000.

Physicians frequently recommend that their patients "kick the habit"; you never hear a physician recommend picking up cigarette smoking to improve their patients' health. Even "Dear Abby" has an annual event encouraging smokers to kick the smoking habit. They're on to something...

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