An Echo Press Editorial: 'It's easy to quit smoking'

By the Echo Press Editorial Board

There’s an old joke about a long-time smoker who proclaimed, “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it thousands of times.”

And, of course, that sums up the nicotine addiction problem in a nutshell. People quit smoking for many reasons – pressure from loved ones, coworkers, their doctor or the self-realization that they’re wrecking their health. But more often than not, they take up the habit again. Then quit. Only to resume smoking a few days, weeks, months or years later.

Most smokers know the health risks: Tobacco use accounts for nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. each year and is the leading cause of lung cancer, according to the American Lung Association.

A recent complication: Smokers also may have an increased risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19.

In addition, even those around tobacco smokers aren’t safe from its harmful effects. Since 1964, smoking-related illnesses have claimed over 20 million lives in the U.S., 2.5 million of which belonged to nonsmokers who developed diseases merely from secondhand-smoke exposure.


Despite those statistics, many smokers aren’t convinced. Here’s another motivator that may prove effective for some smokers who want to quit – their wallet.

Last week, the newspaper received a news release from the personal-finance website, WalletHub. It noted that the combined economic and societal costs of smoking totaling more than $300 billion per year.

To encourage the estimated 34.2 million tobacco users in the U.S. to kick this dangerous habit, WalletHub looked into the true per-person cost of smoking in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It calculated the potential monetary losses – including both the lifetime and annual cost of a cigarette pack per day, health care expenditures, income losses and other costs – brought on by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Minnesota did not fare well in the study. The total cost per smoker in Minnesota was calculated at just under $2.8 million. Only seven states and the District of Columbia, at $3.3 million, had higher costs.

Here’s the breakdown about the financial cost of smoking in Minnesota (with 1 being the lowest and 25 as the average):

  • Out-of-pocket cost per smoker – $170,995 (rank: 46th)

  • Financial-opportunity cost per smoker – $1,788,885 (rank: 46th)

  • Health-care cost per smoker – $199,528 (rank: 36th)

  • Income loss per smoker – $616,084 (rank: 38th)

  • Other costs per smoker – $14,231 (rank: 36th)

  • Total cost over lifetime per smoker: $2,789,723

  • Total cost per year per smoker: $58,119

For the full report, visit:

That’s a lot of dollars going up in smoke.

Smokers can find ways to quit by visiting Minnesota’s free quit support program, or 1-800-Quit-Now.

Related Topics: HEALTH
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