Quit Smoking, Save a Grand?

Most smokers already know that they can help preserve their health, hygiene and personal relationships by kicking the habit, and that holds true across the country.

But in strictly financial terms, smokers in Delaware stand to save the most cash by quitting. That's because in Delaware, where a pack of cigarettes costs about $5.39, residents smoke more than in any other state--just over 185 packs per year. That comes out to $998.23 spent individually on smoking every year.

Click here to learn more about saving money by quitting smoking at our partner site, Forbes.com.

On the other hand, so few cigarettes are smoked in Utah that the average resident would save less by stopping smoking than a smoker in any other state. For the 33 average packs they smoke a year, Utahns spend $150.85 annually.

Smokers in most states stand to save between $200 and $500. They include those in Florida ($276.04); Alaska ($441.72); Maine ($439.92); Mississippi ($321.46); and Illinois ($298.66).

Forbes.com found data on the price of cigarettes and frequency of smoking for the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and found that in most states, quitting smoking would save more than $300 per year just on the cost of cigarettes, and in some states, far more than that. Those savings don't include the myriad other costs nonsmokers are spared: steep dry-cleaning bills, big health care costs and higher life insurance premiums among them.

This is especially important today. With scores of Americans being forced to tighten their belts, smoking is a quick way to fatten the wallet. What's more, state cigarette taxes could be on the rise. If history offers any lessons, we may see an even steeper cost of smoking soon--and more of a reason to quit--since state governments often turn to these tax hikes when economic times are tough.

Behind the Numbers

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, Forbes.com compiled the state taxes on a pack of cigarettes and the average price of a pack in each state. We then used the per-capita packs bought in 2007, as calculated by the CDC, to approximate how much the average smoker spends per year on cigarettes.

A pack of cigarettes in New York is more expensive than anywhere else in the country, at $8.66 (in New York City, cigarette taxes are higher, bringing the price up to $9.72). Yet in New York, only 34 packs are sold annually per capita, bringing tobacco spending to $296--still an attractive savings.

The cheapest pack of cigarettes can be found in tobacco-rich South Carolina, where a $.07 cigarette tax brings the price of a pack to only $3.33. But that doesn't mean individuals in the state spend less on smoking overall. In fact, because 91 packs a year are sold per person in South Carolina, residents spend $304 per year on smokes--more than highly taxed New Yorkers.

Taxes on cigarettes have a direct effect on smoking rates, and New York's prohibitive cigarette costs are a big part of why New Yorkers buy fewer packs.

"Raising the cigarette tax is the simplest, fastest way to reduce smoking," says Eric Lindbloom, director for policy research at the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids. "There's an immediate response. People cut back more, they quit more, they call quit lines and buy nicotine-replacement therapy more. Every indicator shows that as the price increases you end up with fewer people smoking."

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