Smoking costs and this is where you start paying (Oct. 10)


Like a kid who has done something wrong, smokers are forced to their designated outside corners to smoke their cigarettes. There is a business that I pass frequently in Monroeville where I see the smokers outside in the rain or snow huddled together smoking. I am old enough to remember the days when people were allowed to smoke inside of a restaurant and on an airplane, in those days it really didn’t matter if you were in the smoking section or not the scent of the cigarettes could not be contained and your clothes and hair absorbed the fragrance.
Smoking indoors at the workplace has been banned for a long time and now some companies will charge you if you are a smoker. If you’re an employee that receives health care benefits you may have to pay a monthly or every payday fee if you’re a smoker. I have close ties to a company that charges $25 per pay check if you smoke. Due to a change in the company the fee will soon be going up to $125 a month. To me that would be an incentive to stop smoking as the company also offers a smoking cessation program.
A recent news story says Pittsburgh city workers will pay $50 a month if they use tobacco products. It’s called a surcharge and it is incorporated into the fees that are paid for health care benefits. Again this alone would give me an incentive to quit along with the high cost of cigarettes. The Affordable Care Act allows employers to levy the surcharge provided they offer a tobacco cessation program and an employee fails to participate, according to the American Lung Association. I think employees are on the honor system here.
Cigarettes have an average cost of $5.51 per pack with the price in most states being between $6 to $8. This number is taken from the combined prices of all of the states but the actual numbers vary greatly with the most expensive cigarettes costing on average, $12.85 (New York).
I used to be a cigarette sales rep for Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company. We sold Kool, Belair, Raleigh and Viceroy Cigarettes. It was my first sales job and I received two cartons of cigarettes per pay as a part of my compensation. I used to take cash instead or trade the cartons with other sales reps that sold things like toothpaste and mouthwash.
I have watched people buy by the carton and I am amazed at the price. To me it feels like setting money on fire and I never would want to do that. Imagine the money you could save by quitting. I will not date anyone that smokes, I don’t allow people to smoke in my car or my house but I do have a few dear friends that smoke and pray they will soon quit.
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