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The Toll of Tobacco in the United States
Last Updated: Jan. 8, 2015
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, imposing a terrible toll in health, lives and dollars on families, businesses and government. Tobacco kills 480,000 people annually – more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.
Tobacco costs the U.S. approximately $170 billion in health care expenditures and $151 billion in lost productivity each year.
While the United States has made major progress against tobacco use, nearly one in five Americans still smokes, and more than 2,800 kids try their first cigarette each day.
The Toll of Tobacco in the United States
|High school students who are current (past month) smokers||15.7% or 2.7 million [Boys: 16.4% Girls: 15%]|
|High school males who currently use smokeless tobacco||14.7% [Girls: 2.9%]|
|Kids (under 18) who try smoking for the first time each day||2,800+|
|Kids (under 18) who become new regular, daily smokers each day||700|
|Kids (4-17) exposed to secondhand smoke||37.3%|
|Packs of cigarettes consumed by kids each year||540 million (roughly $1.2 billion per year in sales revenue)|
|Adults in the USA who smoke||17.8% or 42.1 million [Men: 20.5% Women: 15.3%]|
|Adults in the USA who smoke daily||13.7%|
Deaths and Disease in the USA from Tobacco Use
|People who die each year from their own cigarette smoking||approx. 480,000|
|Kids under 18 alive today who will ultimately die from smoking (unless smoking rates decline)||5.6 million|
|People in the USA who currently suffer from smoking-caused illness||16 million|
Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined, with thousands more dying from spit tobacco use. Of the roughly 270,000 kids who become new regular, daily smokers each year, almost a third will ultimately die from it. In addition, smokers lose an average of 13 to 14 years of life because of their smoking.
Tobacco-Related Monetary Costs in the USA
Total annual public and private health care expenditures caused by smoking: Approximately $170 Billion
- Annual Federal and state government smoking-caused Medicaid payments: $39.6 billion
[Federal share: $22.5 billion per year. States’ share: $17.1 billion]
- Federal government smoking-caused Medicare expenditures each year: $45.0 billion
- Other federal government tobacco-caused health care costs (e.g. through VA health care): $23.8 billion
Annual health care expenditures solely from secondhand smoke exposure: $6.03 billion
Additional smoking-caused health costs caused by tobacco use include annual expenditures for health and developmental problems of infants and children caused by mothers smoking or being exposed to second-hand smoke during pregnancy or by kids being exposed to parents smoking after birth. Also not included above are costs from smokeless or spit tobacco use, adult secondhand smoke exposure, or pipe/cigar smoking.
Productivity losses caused by smoking and expoisure to secondhand smoke each year: $156.6 billion
[Only includes costs from productive work lives shortened by smoking-caused death. Not included: costs from smoking caused disability during work lives, smoking-caused sick days, or smoking-caused productivity declines when on the job.]
Other non-healthcare costs from tobacco use include residential and commercial property losses from smoking-caused fires, tobacco-related cleaning & maintenance, and expenditures through Social Security Survivors Insurance for kids who have lost at least one parent from a smoking-caused death.
- Taxpayers yearly fed/state tax burden from smoking-caused gov't spending: $112.4 billion ($956 per household)
- Smoking-caused health costs and productivity losses per pack sold in USA (low estimate): $19.16 per pack
- Average retail price per pack in the USA (including sales tax): $6.18
Tobacco Industry Advertising & Political Influence
- Annual tobacco industry spending on marketing its products nationwide: $8.8 billion ($24 million each day)
Research studies have found that kids are three times as sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults and are more likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing than by peer pressure; and that a third of underage experimentation with smoking is attributable to tobacco company advertising and promotion.
- Annual tobacco industry contributions to federal candidates: Over $1.6 million
- Annual tobacco industry expenditures lobbying Congress in 2010: Over $16.6 million
Tobacco companies also spend enormous amounts to influence state and local politics; and, when threatened by the federal McCain tobacco control bill in 1998, spent more than $125 million in direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat it. Since 1998, Altria (Philip Morris) has spent more on lobbying Congress than almost any other business.
The toll of tobacco in your state