The Real Cost

Oregon Pays the Price

Even if you don’t smoke, tobacco costs you dearly. It robs life from our communities, and diminishes the future of our state.

7,000 Oregonians are Lost Every Year

People who smoke feel the loss at the cash register, $5 a day8 with nothing to show for it except a greater risk of developing asthma, arthritis, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. When those risks become reality, their families feel the losses, burying 7,0009 Oregonians every year. Nationwide, more of us are dying from tobacco than all other drugs, car crashes and gun deaths combined.10

But the full cost of tobacco-related disease and early death is larger even than that, and trickier to see. The real cost is in the billions—the money that Oregon spends on caring for our sick and dying neighbors; and the wages we surrender, in their never-earned paychecks and never-built dreams.


All told, the economic waste wrought by Big Tobacco in Oregon totals

$2.5 billion

in direct medical costs and lost productivity.11

We pay as a state and as individuals, through our taxes and through health insurance rates, to cover the excess medical costs of people who smoke or did so in the past. And we lose out on future earnings that won’t fuel our state economy because the 7,000 Oregon residents who might have earned those wages died from smoking instead.

A little perspective on $2.5 billion: It’s more than Oregon spends annually on public safety—for prisons, state police and the courts.12

$2.5 billion equates to $1,60013 for every Oregon household each year, from Astoria to Brookings, from Newport to LaGrande.

What kind of state could we build with those dollars?

Who could we be?


If I don't smoke, tobacco doesn't affect me.


Of the $2.5 billion lost annually to tobacco, $1.3 billion are direct medical expenses that we pay as a state and as individuals, through our taxes and health insurance rates that are based on the medical needs of large groups of insured people. These expenses are the excess health care costs of people who smoke or did so in the past—over and above the costs of non-smokers—for ambulance rides, hospital stays, treatment, prescription drugs, nursing home care and other expenses.

The remaining $1.2 billion are indirect losses to Oregon — the value of future earnings from paid labor that will not flow through our economy because the 7,000 Oregon residents who would’ve earned those wages died instead, and died earlier than they would have if they hadn’t used tobacco.