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Individual Lifestyles Impact Everyone’s Pocketbooks

cigarette_water_vaporI have had a few cigarettes sparingly since my first taste at 15 years old, but started smoking more heavily when I lived in Europe this past year. Though smoking in general is much more commonplace in Europe than in the United States, I came back to find that it is actually quite characteristic of many cities here, as well, including Santa Cruz.

This realization came to me around the same time that my lungs began to beg for fresh air and I could no longer ignore the growing holes in my pockets from my disgusting habit. I stopped for selfish reasons, but we could all do with a little adjusting to our way of life in order to keep exorbitant health care costs down: not only do unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking contribute to a poor lifestyle, they also end up costing the individual making them, as well as those surrounding the individual, money. Here is why:

Smoking cigarettes is literally money down the toilet: Brett Blumenthal, a contributor to Yahoo’s online health and wellness magazine Shine, recalls a major campaign in the subways of New York City totaling the amount of money individual people spend on cigarettes and thus could save if they stopped. These ads often equated the cumulative amount over a year to the price of a vacation. Today, a pack of cigarettes costs about $4. If you consume a pack a day, it would cost you almost $1,500 a year. But remember: the $1,500 is just the cost of the habit, not the cost of the potential diseases or conditions that may become a result of your habit.

The less healthy you are, the more time you will take off work: This means less income, if you are limited to a certain number of sick days and go over that limit. Because very few of Americans have full-coverage insurance plans, each visit to the doctor, each procedure that is require inevitably requires money out of your own pocket.

How these individual lifestyle choices affect everyone’s healthcare costs: Wellness Council of America President Dr. David Hunnicut interviewed Dr. Steven Aldana, a distinguished wellness speaker, regarding the vast amounts of healthcare costs, which can be minimized by the decisions of individuals in our country. Aldana presents some startling statistics. It turns out that more than 70 percent of our healthcare costs are specifically related to lifestyle decisions:

•    Aldana explains that the annual healthcare costs specific to obesity-related disease and health issues, all of which are considered preventable, represents about $150 billion or about 12 percent of our healthcare costs.

•    Smoking-related illnesses account for $96.7 billion in healthcare, or approximately 8 percent of healthcare costs

•    Sedentary lifestyles account for 15 percent of all healthcare costs. It turns out that only 20 percent—25 percent of the population achieves the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity. Furthermore, other preventable conditions aside from smoking make up an additional 40 percent of our healthcare costs

•    In total, all of the above is related to 75 percent of our healthcare costs. Also, 70 percent of American deaths are attributed to strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and cancer, all of which can be influenced significantly through lifestyle choices.

Do these statistics surprise you?

 

Comments (4)Add Comment
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written by ..., August 30, 2011
This article isn't about discrimination, it's about lowering health care costs. It also isn't just about smokers, it's about those who live sedentary or unproductive lifestyles. You know, those people who write long-winded unnecessary responses on the internet...
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written by serenata, August 29, 2011
smoking it's one of the most disgusting self destructive stinky habits.
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written by Mark Halfmoon, August 28, 2011
Got anything new? This constant banging the drum to stamp out the evil of tobacco smoke sounds like the old temperance sermons. They're not really designed to get people to quit smoking. All of that information is generally known to smokers already. It is intended to rally the brigades of anti-smoking crusaders to intensify their self-rightous beat down of those unenlightened smokers of tobacco with impunity.

My problem with this has nothing to do with the health issues or the Constitutional rights of smokers. It's not personal. I used to enjoy smoking tobacco, but I don't smoke it anymore. The problem is with having a pariah class of people to which it is always acceptable to discriminate against. It is always OK to arbitrarily make up punitive rules that have no health implications for anyone else but no one dares to defend the vile smoker.

At a County Board of Supervisors meeting a few years back, it was decided to make the loading area under the passageway between the County Government building and the Courthouse a no smoking area. No problem. People only went there to smoke when it rained. When it was suggested that a small canvas cover be put up some distance from the entrance for those people during the rainy season, the response was pretty much: "Screw 'em. Let 'em quit if they don't wanna get wet."

At a brand new apartment complex, all the new tenants were told, and signed a lease that said, that while they may not smoke in the buildings, they must move at least 20 feet from any entrance or window to do so. Forget about any protection from the elements. Within a year the management company unilaterally changed the distance to 50 feet. The residents who smoked readily complied without complaint. Then a while later, management declared that there would be no smoking on the entire property, again unilaterally changing the rules of the agreement. Two of the very few smokers are physically disabled women, who now have to walk either 50 yards uphill to a lonely road at night, whether it's raining or not, or down the river levy among the nightly campers, some of whom are of the tweeked on meth variety.

Never mind that in both of these cases, the former smoking areas were located in parking areas, where idling internal combustion engines continue to belch out deadly carbon monoxide and other noxious fumes wafting into windows, doors, and air vents right on top of them. Drivers are still an accepted class so nobody's talking about getting rid of cars or moving parking lots away.... yet.

To subject any class of people to indiscriminate, unreasonable, discriminatory, and unfairly punitive treatment with impunity is wrong. It permits and encourages an ugly social model that we have seen used against people for other reasons. As long as we keep what is at its heart, a hateful social model alive and well-fed with justifiable hatred, the stronger it will be and the easier it will be to access when a new acceptable social enemy comes into vogue.
...
written by Mark Halfmoon, August 28, 2011
Got anything new? This constant banging the drum to stamp out the evil of tobacco smoke sounds like the old temperance sermons. They're not really designed to get people to quit smoking. All of that information is generally known to smokers already. It is intended to rally the brigades of anti-smoking crusaders to intensify their self-rightous beat down of those unenlightened smokers of tobacco with impunity.

My problem with this has nothing to do with the health issues or the Constitutional rights of smokers. It's not personal. I used to enjoy smoking tobacco, but I don't smoke it anymore. The problem is with having a pariah class of people to which it is always acceptable to discriminate against. It is always OK to arbitrarily make up punitive rules that have no health implications for anyone else but no one dares to defend the vile smoker.

At a County Board of Supervisors meeting a few years back, it was decided to make the loading area under the passageway between the County Government building and the Courthouse a no smoking area. No problem. People only went there to smoke when it rained. When it was suggested that a small canvas cover be put up some distance from the entrance for those people during the rainy season, the response was pretty much: "Screw 'em. Let 'em quit if they don't wanna get wet."

At a brand new apartment complex, all the new tenants were told, and signed a lease that said, that while they may not smoke in the buildings, they must move at least 20 feet from any entrance or window to do so. Forget about any protection from the elements. Within a year the management company unilaterally changed the distance to 50 feet. The residents who smoked readily complied without complaint. Then a while later, management declared that there would be no smoking on the entire property, again unilaterally changing the rules of the agreement. Two of the very few smokers are physically disabled women, who now have to walk either 50 yards uphill to a lonely road at night, whether it's raining or not, or down the river levy among the nightly campers, some of whom are of the tweeked on meth variety.

Never mind that in both of these cases, the former smoking areas were located in parking areas, where idling internal combustion engines continue to belch out deadly carbon monoxide and other noxious fumes wafting into windows, doors, and air vents right on top of them. Drivers are still an accepted class so nobody's talking about getting rid of cars or moving parking lots away.... yet.

To subject any class of people to indiscriminate, unreasonable, discriminatory, and unfairly punitive treatment with impunity is wrong. It permits and encourages an ugly social model that we have seen used against people for other reasons. As long as we keep what is at its heart, a hateful social model alive and well-fed with justifiable hatred, the stronger it will be and the easier it will be to access when a new acceptable social enemy comes into vogue.

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