The U.S. state that spends the most on smoking

Cigarette Smoker Closeup

When it comes to smoking, New Yorkers are blowing up their financial futures. The Empire State is the costliest state in the U.S. for smoking, according to “The Real Cost of Smoking by State (2024)” by personal finance website WalletHub. 

In New York, the average smoker pays more than $5 million over their lifetime on cigarettes. The District of Columbia and Maryland follow in second and third places, respectively, according to the report, which was released on January 10.  

“It can also make your financial future go up in smoke, potentially losing you millions of dollars over a lifetime in the most expensive states,” Cassandra Happe, a WalletHub analyst, said in the report.

Currently, there are 28.3 million tobacco users in the U.S. The report aims to use spending data to motivate smokers to kick the habit.  

To evaluate the financial impact of tobacco use, WalletHub analyzed the potential monetary losses for smokers. The calculations considered factors such as the cumulative cost of a daily cigarette pack over decades, healthcare expenses, income reductions, and other related costs. For this analysis, it was assumed that an adult started smoking one pack of cigarettes per day at age 21, with a projected lifespan of 48 more years, considering the average age of 69 -- the age at which a smoker typically dies.

In addition to spending the most over a lifetime, New York smokers experienced the greatest lost financial opportunity, or the amount of the money they spent on smoking rather than investing it. Spending $226,000 on cigarettes during a lifetime whittles a person’s retirement by a mammoth $4 million compared to an individual who invested it, according to the results.

The District of Columbia took second place. Smokers there spent a lifetime average of $5.1 million. Each year, those in the district spend nearly $4,400 annually on cigarettes, contributing to over $210,000 in out-of-pocket costs over their lifetimes. Furthermore, residents' tobacco habit resulted in an estimated lost financial opportunity totaling $3.75 million, according to the report.

In Maryland, lifetime spending on smoking was estimated at more than $4.9 million. Smokers faced a lost financial opportunity cost of $3.6 million, placing the state in fourth place for this category. Rhode Island came in third place with a lost financial opportunity cost of $3.74 million, according to the WalletHub.

However, Alabama, Missouri, and Mississippi are the least costly states for smoking. Average smokers in these states spent approximately $2.8 million over their lifetimes, according to the report.

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