Over a fifth of Tennessee’s adult population smokes, giving the state the dubious No. 46 ranking among the states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state’s smokers might want to take note of a debate playing out across the nation about whether smokers should pay more for health insurance. National Public Radio, WBUR and Kaiser Health News reported the debate is creating unlikely alliances; tobacco companies are working with cancer societies and consumer advocacy groups to convince states they should not allow higher rates for smokers.
The Affordable Care Act allows insurers to charge smokers up to 50 percent more for insurance premiums than non-smokers.
Smoking is expensive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking costs the country $193 billion a year in lost productivity and health care spending. That’s not including another $10 billion for secondhand smoking.
But consumer advocacy groups are concerned the financial incentives won’t change behavior and could limit access to health care.
Earlier this week, The Daily News reported on the state of women’s health in Tennessee. Dr. Karen Johnson, a professor and interim chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center told the paper smoking remains on her top list of local health concerns.
Johnson said smoking is tied to increased rates for a host of cancers, including lung, stomach, oral, bowel, ovarian, cervical and many others.