Editor’s note: This is the second in a series about the dangers of tobacco and nicotine.
The coffers of large tobacco companies are huge. In 2017 they spent $9.36 billion on advertising and promotion of cigarettes to you and your children and grandchildren. That is more than $25 million per day, or $1 million per hour to destroy the health of our citizens. If you had their income, you could retire after working for only one hour.
One might think that the cigarette profit margin is very high for retailers if they sell tobacco. But in reality, if a store sells one pack of cigarettes they only make 5 to 15 cents per pack. The major profits come from tobacco company kickbacks that retailers get if they sell and purchase large volumes of cigarettes. They can then purchase more packs for less money.
They also get additional kickbacks if they display cigarettes in clear vision of anyone coming into the store. Notice where cigarettes are displayed. They are in plain sight as you face the counter and not under the counter. The visual message they send to children is that tobacco is okay to sell and purchase. Retailers get extra kickbacks if they display cigarette posters outside their stores, adding to the visual exposure of cigarettes to children.
We have about 100 retailers who sell cigarettes in Klamath County. Just think: if they were organized and decided collectively to stop the sale of cigarettes their businesses would likely be the same, without increasing the coffers of big tobacco companies by $1 million per hour.
In 1998, there was a settlement between the states and large tobacco companies that required tobacco companies to pay money in perpetuity to the states to cover health care costs caused by smoking and chewing tobacco. In 2018, Oregon received $338.8 million in revenue from the settlement and from taxes on cigarettes. Of this $338.8 million, Oregon allocated only $10 million in state funds to tobacco prevention and cessation.
Ask yourself why so little and where did the other $328 million go? You might ask your congressmen this question.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oregon should spend $39 million on tobacco prevention and cessation programs. If smoking is one of our biggest killers and expenses, why are we spending only $10 million?
The CDC gives Oregon an “F” in funding for tobacco cessation. If 70% of the smokers say they want to quit, why can’t we help them stop nicotine addiction?
Smoking costs America $300 billion. Direct medical care accounts for about $170 billion and another $156 billion for lost productivity from illness, death and secondhand smoke. It costs tobacco companies six cents to make one cigarette and it costs you an average of $7 a pack, with 20 cigarettes in each.
Smoking a pack of cigarettes per day for one year costs citizens $2,000 — or $20,000 spent over ten years. Please think about these numbers if you have smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years. You have spent $20,000 to compromise your health and life. So, again ask yourself: Why don’t we do something to reduce the costs of smoking?
— Glenn Gailis worked as a medical doctor for 45 years. He is now retired and works to reduce tobacco use.