By this point in time, nearly every American knows the negative health effects of smoking. If the graphic images in health class weren’t enough to scare you, the warnings on the cigarette boxes should be. Despite the health warnings, individuals continue to pick up the habit every year for a variety of reasons. Along with the habit come a number of different risks and costs that smokers take on, some without even realizing it.

The Costs cost of smoking

The price of a pack of cigarettes isn’t the only cost of smoking; according to the American Cancer Society, for every pack of cigarettes you buy, averaged at $6.36 per pack, you incur $35 in health related costs. The health care costs associated with tobacco are massive, costing the United States $96 billion between 2000 and 2004. Smokers aren’t the only ones losing money, either. An Ohio State University study found that smokers cost their employers an average of $5,816 every year in smoking breaks, health care costs, and absenteeism.

The adverse effects of smoking cigarettes result in much worse consequences: 443,000 deaths annually in the United States, or 1 in 5 of every deaths, according to the CDC. Smoking tobacco accounts for more deaths every year than deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.

The truth is, though, most people who smoke already know these statistics and accept the fact that their health will suffer in the name of tobacco. What they don’t consider is that those health problems will likely end up costing them thousands of dollars down the road and increasing their chance of living in a nursing home.

Long Term Care

Individuals who smoke have higher risks of nearly every disease, but especially those that cause long-term damage and can land you in a nursing home or in need of a full-time caregiver. Many people who smoke assume (and will even tell you) that the negative health consequences of their smoking will simply be to drop dead from a heart attack; more often than not, it’s much more complicated than that.

Smoking tobacco increases your risk of heart disease and stroke 2-4 times. Not surprisingly, it has a huge impact on your risk of lung cancer, too. Men who smoke tobacco are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women are 13 times more likely to develop lung cancer when compared to non-smokers. Women who smoke also have a higher risk of hip fractures. All of these chronic diseases and physical conditions greatly increase the chances that you will need long term care, something that doesn’t come cheap.

Long term care is care provided to an individual who is unable to perform basic daily tasks on their own. Many people who suffer from strokes, dementia, heart disease, obesity, or other chronic conditions require some form of long term care. This type of care can cost upwards of $50,000 annually, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Because neither health insurance nor Medicare pay for the cost of long term care, individuals are left to cover the costs themselves.

Protect Your Health

Considering most people aren’t financially prepared for a medical emergency that ends in long term care, figuring out how to cover the costs can be difficult. Long term care insurance provides a way to help cover the costs and shield your assets from the high price.

Government studies place the risk for needing long term care at 1 in 2 for all Americans, and even higher, 7 in 10, for all seniors. Smoking only increases this risk, something that should be seriously considered in the light of the high costs. Read more about taking steps to protect your health and reduce the chances that you will need long term care in the future.