GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Smoking is a common habit in our state costing lives, and a new WalletHub report ranks North Carolina as the 5th cheapest state for smoking.
Local health professionals WNCT spoke with say the low cost of smoking might not encourage people to smoke, but it certainly doesn’t encourage them to quit.
This report says a smoker in North Carolina will spend nearly $1.3 million over a lifetime, which sounds like a lot, but the most expensive state is nearly double that.
The report analyzes more costs associated with smoking than just the price of a pack-a-day habit. It also looks at healthcare costs and potential loss of income.
So we went to local experts to find out what this all means. ECU’s Dr. Joseph Lee says boosting tobacco prices will make a huge difference
“It really is the number one best intervention we have to make people quit smoking and to prevent youth from starting to smoke. Quite honestly, it’s just a matter of political will and the clout and influence of the tobacco industry that keeps our prices and our taxes on tobacco very low,” Dr. Lee said.
The average state cigarette tax is $1.59 per pack, yet it’s just $0.45 in North Carolina.
The American Cancer Society says for every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes, overall cigarette use declines by 4%.
We also reached out to the North Carolina’s chapter of the American Cancer Society for reaction to this report. Part of their statement is below.
“Unfortunately, North Carolina has a long way to go to see significant changes in tobacco consumption. Thankfully, we know what works to help adults quit, and keep kids from starting. Comprehensive tobacco control efforts must include three basic, evidence- based strategies to be effective. ACS CAN supports a comprehensive approach to tackling tobacco use through policies that 1. Increase the price of all tobacco products through regular and significant tobacco tax increases. 2. Implement comprehensive smoke- and tobacco-free policies; and 3. Fully fund and sustain evidence-based, statewide tobacco use prevention and cessation programs. North Carolina is putting its kids at risk and costing taxpayers money by refusing to fund tobacco prevention programs that are proven to save lives and health care dollars. Past progress shows it is within our reach to create a tobacco-free generation. But we need elected leaders in North Carolina to get behind increasing the tobacco tax significantly and fund proven youth tobacco prevention programs,” explained Ray Riordan, North Carolina Grassroots Manager, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
WalletHub collected data from the following organizations for this report: the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Insurance Information Institute, NYsmokefree.com, the Federal Reserve database in St. Louis (FRED), Kaiser Family Foundation and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.