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Give Yourself a Raise
Photo: Jane M Sawyer
Could you use some extra money? What if I told you that you could get $1000 to $3000 extra every year by not doing something? Some comes from the government, too. It is like those federal programs you read about, where farmers get paid not to grow crops. It is a lot like that, because not everyone can get this cash.

This is after-tax money, too. Every dollar you get is all yours. The government does not get a penny of it. In fact, in the long run, they pay you more than they would have otherwise. Interested?

What is it?

It is simple. Stop smoking.

The average retail price for a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $4.36. Depending on the state where you live it can be as low as $3.40 a pack or as much as $5.80. That means if you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you spend almost $1600 a year on smokes. Live in a high-tax state like New York? It could be as much as $2100 a year – enough for a week for two on a cruise ship.

A Lot of Money Going Up in Smoke!

That is at one pack a day. Smoke two – or even three daily? Do the math – multiply that total by two or three. That is a lot of your money going up in smoke.

Best of all, money saved when you quit smoking is money you have already paid taxes on. If your boss gave you a $1000 raise, Uncle Sam would get around $200 of that. To get the $1600 you save by quitting you would have to work enough overtime to make $1900. If you are self-employed, paying both halves of Social Security taxes, you would have to earn closer to $2000 to keep $1600.

A big chunk of the money that you spend of cigarettes goes to the government – an average of $1.55 a pack. At a pack a day it comes out to almost $600 a year in taxes. If you quit smoking you keep that money. It is like the government giving you $600 a year.

That may explain why the government does not ban tobacco. The government makes big money from smokers. Not just from tobacco taxes, either. A smoker can expect to die eight to twenty years sooner than a non-smoker. Savings in pension programs, like Social Security, more than makes up what a smoker costs the government in health care.

When you look at it that way, tobacco taxes are really taxes you pay for being stupid.

Be smart. Stop paying the stupid tax. Quit. Even if you are a long-time smoker you will benefit healthwise from quitting; to say nothing of the money you will save.

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Written by Mark N. Lardas, copyright 2006, Mark N. Lardas, all rights reserved.  Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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