Smoking isn’t just hazardous to New Yorkers’ health — it can burn a big hole in the wallet, too.
Buying tobacco products costs a New York pack-a-day smoker $ 146,127 during the course of a lifespan, according to a WalletHub study released Tuesday.
Add on greater health care costs, heftier insurance premiums and other lost income and smokers in the Empire State lose more than $ 600,000 over a lifetime, according to the financial social network’s analysis.
“Damn, that’s a house!” said Raymond Concepcion, 20, a Kennedy Airport security worker who splits cigarette packs with his girlfriend.
“Knowing how people struggle nowadays, that money could go to something else,” added Concepcion, who lives in Manhattan. “And all it does is go back to the tobacco company. It’s crazy. We’ve gotta cut back.”
The number of smokers in New York City has been climbing in recent years. More than 1 million adult New Yorkers — 16.1% of the population — maintain the habit, according to city health department data. The city had 853,000 smokers in 2010. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in New York City.
If the money spent on cigarettes was invested instead, a New York smoker’s lost earnings could reach nearly $ 2 million, WalletHub calculated.
“That’s way too high!” said Rolando Gonzalez, 55, who picked up the nasty habit for the first time in his life just five years ago due to high stress. “I smoke about a half a pack a day. I smoke cigars more than cigarettes and they can be expensive. That’s a lot of money. I’ve been trying to cut back. That will add to it.”
The researchers tallied costs for a pack-a-day smoker over 51 years, starting at age 18 — when young people can legally purchase smokes — through 69, the average age at which a smoker dies. In 2013, the most recent year in which figures were available, an estimated 12,000 New Yorkers died of smoking-related illnesses like heart disease and lung cancer, according to city Health Dept. data.
Tech support worker Rodrick Carter, 38, who has been smoking a pack a day for the past 15 years, said the high figure makes him want to finally quit.
“I did the math and I know it’s more than I can afford. But I always make it work. I somehow budget it out. You know, with daily life and stresses, it’s something I make work,” he said.
“It’s human nature to just think of what’s happening now,” added Carter, who lives in Manhattan. “The immediate. Even though I know all the dangers and I know the money it costs, it’s a day-by-day process.”
Tobacco is more expensive in New York than any other state besides Alaska, with an average price per pack of $ 7.85, plus more than $ 4 in taxes, according to the analysis.
Cigarettes are chea*pest in tobacco-growing states South Carolina and Kentucky, the researchers found.
“It’s right around that resolution season, so if the health reasons weren’t enough for you, hopefully these financial reasons will really be an awakening,” said WalletHub spokesperson Jill Gonzalez.
New York state runs a quit smoking helpline, available at nysmokefree.com or by calling 311 or 866-NYQUITS.