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Study Claims Smokers Rob Florida of 20 Billion Dollars A Year

March 6th, 2008 by flanews

A study released Thursday claims smokers cost the state of Florida 20 Billion dollars a year. A statewide institute wants employers and insurance companies to pay the cost to help smokers quit. As Whitney Ray tells us some companies already offer free quitting options, but not every smoker uses them.

Hear it here: Study Claims Smokers Robs Florida of 20 Billion Dollars A Year

Kimberly Piwinski and Kimberly Crowe share a first name, share a boss and on occasion, share a cigarette.

We do need to quit, said Piwinski.

The women work in marking at Costco. Their company offers free quitting programs.

Whatever we need to quite smoking theyll give it to us, Crowe said.

Still, both Kimberlys continue to light up. They say they want to stop smoking, but like 60 percent of smokers nationwide, its just a plan. The Florida Institute for Smoking Cessation announced its plan to break Floridians of the smoking habit. Three million Floridians or about 17 percent of the states population, smokes and its costing taxpayers.

If every smoker in Floridas Medicaid program quit the state would save 346 million dollars in badly needed revenue over the next five years, said Chuck Yaros with the Washington Economics Group.

People who quit would also save. A pack of smokes cost about four dollars but experts say the toll cigarettes take on the body, plus time missed at work can actually cost the consumer more than 17 dollars a pack.

Representative Gayle Harrell is joining the institute to ask employer to help their employees stop smoking. She says it will save companies in the long run.

People who are sick dont perform as well on the job and if you have somebody coming to you hacking away, theyre not paying attention to what theyre doing on the job and you can have all kinds of other things happen as well, said Harrell

Regardless of what programs are offered and who pays for them the hard part will be left up to smokes, who have chose to put down their cigarettes or suffer the consequences. Experts say it takes between 6 and 9 attempts for a smoker to stop.

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