Also, state and federal cigarette taxes average $2.50 a pack. A pack-a-day smoker in the United States pays $900 a year in cigarette taxes.
And any discussion of the cost of smoking ought to include Social Security.
According to research at Oxford University, smoking shortens one's life expectancy by 10 years (again, on average).
Those 10 years come at the end of life, which shortens retirement.
Given that the average worker can expect $14,000 a year from Social Security, your average smoker is saving Social Security $140,000.
It's not as simple as all that, of course, but any discussion of the cost of something should also include the benefits - and vice versa.
To be sure, end-of-life treatment is expensive for smokers, but it is also expensive for non-smokers.
The difference is they come, on average, 10 years apart.
I do not advocate smoking. I quit, and I encourage everyone who still smokes to quit, if only to collect back what they paid into Social Security.
But smoking is a legal activity, one that provides the government with quite handsome profits.
The federal government in 2009 increased tobacco taxes by 62 cents a pack to pay for an expansion of the state Children's Health Insurance Program.
If a program truly is so wonderful and worthwhile, then everyone should pitch in to fund it, not just the scapegoats.
Surber's email is donsur...@dailymail.com.