Tobacco-use verification

The Very Large Company that I work for has just put this on the employee website:

New this year! Tobacco-use verification
To avoid paying an additional $50 per person each month for 2014 medical plan benefits, you need to verify by Dec. 3, 2013, that you and/or your covered spouse or eligible domestic partner does not use tobacco products. If you verify that you and/or your covered spouse or eligible domestic partner has used tobacco products in the past six months, and do not satisfy a reasonable alternative or receive a physician waiver by Dec. 3, 2013, you will pay an additional $50 monthly per person contribution for 2014 medical benefits. To complete the tobacco-use verification and to learn more, visit the Your Benefits Resources website.

Since I have never smoked (or used any tobacco product in any way) I simply don’t understand why anyone would smoke. However, just running the hard numbers:

$50 per month, times 12 months per year, comes out to, um, 600 bucks, right? Oh, if you have a properly registered significant other, another 600 bucks could be coming out of your pocket. Potentially, $1200 per year. I don’t have a figure on how much the average smoker spends a year on his “coffin nails,” but I have seen advertisements for a carton of cigs in the neighborhood of $70 – would that be about a month’s worth?

There’s also a “health assessment” screening, that will cost $20/month/person if you don’t participate in it. That would be upwards of $480/yr for the typical employee for not filling in the form. So, for being really stupid, you could give the company nearly $1700/yr. Do people really do this? Wouldn’t it be a whole lot more fun to take that $1700 to the mall?

Add the $50/month we are already paying for health insurance, and that looks like another $1200/year (no choice there, however; thank you Obamacare).

Then I went to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Big mistake. Besides the billions of dollars that the industry is paying for advertising ($8.37 billion in 2011), “in 2013, states will collect $25.7 billion from tobacco taxes and legal settlements….” Are we talking real money, yet?

Quality of life? Forgetaboutit!

Great, a whole lot smarter and a whole lot dumber at the same time. Now I know some numbers, and now I am even more in the dark about why people smoke.

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