Smoking can cost you more than your health (Rep. Phil Gingrey)

The harmful effects cigarette smoking has on our economy are therefore overwhelming – not just when considering the obvious health consequences, but also the staggering financial implications of smoking related diseases. The United States loses one hundred and ninety-three billion dollars each year because of it. Ninety-six billion dollars alone comes from the health care expenditures associated with smoking. The other ninety-seven billion dollars comes from lost productivity, which means – in plain words – that employee smoke breaks are costing taxpayers a lot of money with no returns.

Tobacco use is known to cause cancers of the mouth, pancreas, and esophagus. It can also lead to emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction. Furthermore, tobacco use is responsible for five million deaths each year and if we don’t act quickly, that number will reach eight million by the year 2030. And, on average, smokers die fourteen years earlier than nonsmokers. It follows that the effects of smoking are very real and incredibly dangerous.

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death – and thousands of lives can be saved if parents teach their children from an early age about the harm tobacco can do. A large population picks up the habit very young; indeed one thousand children under the age of eighteen become regular smokers each day. As a physician, this is a trend we have to buck, before the statistics I cited earlier are further padded.

Lawmakers need to make sure that health insurance plans incentivize smoking cessation programs and that health care providers encourage community support programs.
When considering the health risks and economic impacts of smoking, it is no wonder that nearly seventy percent of smokers want to quit. Giving Americans the resources they need when it comes to preventing tobacco use is essential to improving our health care system while simultaneously improving the quality of American life.