Nicotine Boost Increases Insurance Premiums


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Studies reveal that cigarette nicotine percentages are on the rise and so are smokers’ insurance premiums.

A recent Harvard study found that cigarette companies are not only packing cigarettes with an increasing amount of nicotine (the nicotine amounts rose 11 percent from 1998-2005); they are also reconfiguring cigarette designs so smokers get more puffs per cigarette. It's not like smoking was already hard enough to quit.

How does this nicotine hike affect your pocketbook? From an insurance standpoint, smoking is risky business. If you're a smoker, it's likely your life and health insurance are significantly higher than a nonsmoker's. In fact, health strategists with Hewitt Associates estimate that smokers’ premiums are often at least 25 percent more than nonsmokers. Some insurance companies even offer a discount for nonsmokers with the idea they will live longer and will be safer drivers.

But smokers, don't think insurance companies are out to get you. There is rationale behind their concept. In addition to being more prone to lung cancer, heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, emphysema, etc. to name a few, as a smoker you likely have more frequent doctor's visits and illnesses than a nonsmoker.

According to health economists at the University of California, cigarette companies rake in nearly $50 million annually from U. S. smokers. All that spending usually leads to even more money paid out by insurance companies to compensate for smokers’ health care costs. Researchers estimate insurance companies pay about $72.7 billion per year to provide health care for those with problems related to cigarette smoking.

Not only do smokers spend a lot of time in the doctor's office, they also do not live as long. The average life span of a smoker is expected to be ten years less than that of a nonsmoker - making life insurance premiums soar. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion estimates that more than 400,000 Americans die prematurely from cigarette smoking each year.

Cigarettes are obviously addictive. Why does nicotine make smoking so hard to quit? Nicotine induces the chemical dopamine, a pleasure stimulating concoction in the brain that makes people feel happy and motivated. Who doesn't want feelings of pleasure and rejuvenation? But should you spend thousands of dollars on health and life insurance coverage due to a habit that reaps the same benefits as exercise, eating food or trying something new?

An article in Psychology Today explains that the brain pumps out dopamine when you embrace new adventures. So get out and take that yoga class you've been thinking about. Try fly-fishing. Treat yourself to a healthy meal at a restaurant you've never been to before.

Evidence proves that nonsmokers are healthier, live longer lives and save quite a bit of money on their insurance premiums. Not only should these alternatives make you feel as good as or better than nicotine - they will greatly reduce your monthly insurance payment as well.

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Krista Farmer is the Director of Public Relations for She received her Bachelor of Science from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. She is a member of PRSA and PRSA Young Professionals.


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