The stress of empty wallets and mounting bills is triggering a return to old habits: former smokers are lighting up again.
The calming satisfaction of a cigarette is how many Americans choose to cope with financial stress, according to a national study by the American Legacy Foundation. The report said 77 percent of smokers report higher levels of stress, which has led to more cigarette smoking or even a switch to cheaper brands rather than quitting to save money.
Health officials in Olympia noted the trends – especially among people living in households where paychecks total less than $35,000 a year.
“We know the tough economy is hitting people hard,” said Washington Health Secretary Mary Selecky in a press release. “It’s another good reason for those who smoke to try quitting.”
The average pack of cigarettes sells for $5.38 in Washington. For pack-a-day smokers that’s about $2,000 a year.
The state offers the Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-Quit-Now.
Smoking rates across Washington have dropped from 22.4 percent eight years ago to 16.5 percent in 2007.
But Spokane’s smoking rate is higher. About one in four people smoke. That statistic includes about 19.4 percent of pregnant women, despite the dangers posed to fetuses and health problems associated with secondhand smoke.