Analysis: How a typical NJ smoker burns $1.2 million
It's no secret smoking carries costs. But you rarely see them broken down this specifically.
Wallethub.com, in a breakdown released this week, estimated the average New Jersey smoker loses nearly $1.2 million over the course of a lifetime to the habit.
The state ranked 43rd overall — where first-place is the least expensive place for a smoker to live. In neighboring New York, in last place, the estimated cost was more than $2.4 million.
The site assumed for its calculations an adult who smokes one pack of cigarettes per day beginning at age 18. It also assumed a lifespan of 51 years as a smoker — noting 69 is the average age at which a smoker dies.
(In New Jersey, the legal age to start smoking is 19 — and a veto by Christie Tuesday did away with a bill that would have raised it to 21.)
"Smoking can not only ruin your health, but it can also burn a nasty hole through your wallet," Wallethub writes. Its methodology for crunching the numbers is here.
According to the site's breakdown, the out-of-pocket cost for an NJ smoker over a lifetime is $138,272. That's the cost for cigarettes alone.
The financial opportunity cost is actually much higher than any other factor in the breakdown, Wallethub estimates. That's the amount of return a person could have gotten if he or she invested the cost of a pack of cigarettes into the stock market — using the historical average market return rate for the S&P 500 minus the inflation rate during the same time period. In New Jersey, the figure is a whopping $1,307,514.
The site says the healthcare cost per New Jersey smoker is $200,823.
It puts the loss of income for a New Jersey resident — from absenteeism, workplace bias or lower productivity due to smoking-induced health problems — at $294,013.
Other costs, including losing out on homeowner's insurance credits, add up to another $12,484.