While the number of smokers has been slowly but steadily falling over the last two decades, according to the World Health Organization, the same cannot be said of vaping.
Vaping — or the inhaling of vapor from e-cigarettes — has jumped dramatically, from about seven million vapers in 2011 to 41 million vapers in 2018, according to market research group Euromonitor. That’s nearly a seven-fold increase.
The industry itself has seen astonishing gains. Globally, the e-cigarette market hit $14.05 billion in 2018 and is expected to more than double to $29.39 billion by the end of 2022.
That said, widespread concern over the practice has grown since the CDC has confirmed that, as of Oct. 17, 2019, there have been 33 deaths associated with vaping illnesses and more than 1,000 people sickened. In September, Massachusetts implemented the strictest prohibition at the time, banning all vape products for four months, and in October, Rhode Island followed suit. The Trump administration has also started considering banning flavored e-cigarettes. The concerns have merit — research suggests that vaping can be just as addictive as or even more than smoking cigarettes due to the nicotine in the vaping liquid.
In addition to health effects, however, vaping can also have an impact on your wallet — and you may not anticipate how it will affect you. Here are some things to consider:
1] Life insurance
Smokers generally pay higher rates for life insurance than non-smokers — and that applies to vapers as well. That’s because the medical exam required for many policies detects nicotine in your urine, so you’ll be classified as a smoker. Prudential just announced, for instance, that people who vape will be classified as smokers for their life insurance products. It’s important to review your life insurance policy (though 10% of Americans say they never have) to make sure you understand how you’ll be classified. Most life insurance companies will offer you the “Preferred Smokers” rate if you’re classified as a smoker, which is more than four times higher than the best non-smoker rate class.
2] Health insurance
The jury is still out on whether health insurers can and will start adding a surcharge for vapers. If the Food and Drug Administration starts regulating e-cigarettes, they’ll treat them like cigarettes and cigars, meaning insurance companies can do the same. And if insurers classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, vapers may face higher premiums.
As the vaping conversation continues, it will be crucial to review all your health insurance options to find the best plan for you.
3] Company wellness benefits
Many company wellness programs offer financial incentives — such as a percentage savings on your health insurance premiums or a cash bonus — if you don’t smoke. While many companies don’t include e-cigarettes as “tobacco use,” that may change as awareness of vaping health issues grows. As more companies include vaping under the smoking umbrella, you may miss out on health bonuses and incentives.
4] Medical care
You may also pay more out of pocket for medical care if you vape. In addition to other health effects, one recent study found that people who vape are more likely to experience heart attacks, coronary heart disease and depression, compared with those who don’t use them or any tobacco products. Another 2019 study on mice suggests that exposure to vaping liquids that contain nicotine could raise your risk of cancer. And the liquid in e-cigarettes has even been linked to a higher risk of respiratory viral infections.
5] Resale value of real estate
Think vaping won’t affect your home value like smoking would? Wrong. In a recent survey, four out of 10 adults said indoor vaping would affect their buying experience negatively, according to The Domo Group of RE/MAX. And another 35% weren’t sure how they’d react to the situation. Vaping has the potential to leave behind residue on carpets and furniture, along with a lingering smell, making your home less appealing to buyers. That’s a big gamble to take on one of the biggest assets you own.
6] The actual costs (financial price) of vaping
Although vaping isn’t as expensive as smoking, it’s not free. Costs vary widely depending on the equipment you purchase and the rate at which you go through the e-liquid or cartridges, but vaping will cost the average user somewhere between $587 and $1,473 per year, according to one analysis.
Although some of the biggest concerns about vaping are health-related, e-cigarette users need to consider financial costs as well. Vaping can raise insurance rates, affect your home’s value and result in higher medical bills for some users. In the end, you’ll have to weigh whether vaping is worth the hefty price tag.
Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.
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