Sask. money going up in smoke

Tobacco costs high in Saskatchewan

The Canadian Cancer Society commissioned a report that estimates $1.1 billion yearly is associated with the use of tobacco in Saskatchewan.

GPI Atlantic released, "The Cost of Tobacco Use in Saskatchewan" report declaring that the $1.1 billion cost of tobacco use to the provincial economy is diminished by only 18% through tobacco tax revenue. The report further states that smoking and exposure to second hand smoke killed 1,561 people in 2005. This is one out of every five deaths in the province.

The October 27, 2009 report states the "real costs" of tobacco add up quickly. Examples include $167.6 million in direct health care for physician, hospital, and drug expenses to treat smoking-related illnesses.

There are indirect costs of tobacco use, such as productivity losses from premature death and disability, which are estimated to be an additional $535.2 million. Heightened absenteeism for employees who smoke cost Saskatchewan employers $413 million. There is also lost time for job related productivity and higher insurance costs. Fires caused by smoking are estimated at an additional $1.9 million.

Who is paying for this?
Half of the province of Saskatchewan are non-smokers. Yet all the taxpayers share in the costs.

How do we change things?
The Canadian Cancer Society has been a strong advocate that the province needs a well-funded tobacco control strategy that includes higher tobacco prices, hard-hitting public education campaigns and more smoke-free policies.

The people smoking in Saskatchewan have been butting out. The rates have dropped from 26% in 1999 down to 20% in 2008. Teenagers smoking have butt out. Their statistics for the same period went from 31% to 20%.

The insurance answer
You will rarely see a non-smokers discount on home insurance as this has been phased out with the drop in smokers or those who smoke in the home. You will see a big difference in rates for life insurance between smokers and non-smokers. If you go a year smoke-free then you can get your smoker rate adjusted. Talk to your agent or broker and add this savings to the cost of cigarettes/cigars no longer purchased!