Tomorrow is the American Cancer Society’s 35th Annual Great American Smokeout, a good day to quit smoking if you haven’t already, or to support the smokers that you know in kicking their habit. Quitting smoking is not only a good decision with respect to your physical health, it can also be quite a boon to your financial health. Even beyond the cost of cigarettes themselves, smoking carries other high costs. Most life insurance, health insurance, homeowners insurance and even auto insurance policies carry higher premiums for smokers. It stands to reason: the price of insurance is based on the odds of having to make payment on a claim. Smokers are an overall riskier bet than nonsmokers. For life and heath insurance, the risks are obvious and well-documented: on average, smokers have significantly more health problems and die younger.
Property insurance is also more costly for smokers due to a higher risk of smoking-related accidents. Households with smokers have an increased risk of fires. According to the US Fire Administration, “… an estimated 9,000 smoking-related fires in residential buildings occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 450 deaths, 1,025 injuries, and $303 million in property loss …they are the leading cause of fire deaths, accounting for 17 percent of fire deaths in residential buildings.” Smoking is also considered to be one of the major “distracted driving” culprits leading to an increase in auto accidents. And with any property, residual damage from smoke can decrease the property value and make resale more difficult. There may be other costs too: last year, it was revealed that Apple voided computer warranties due to second-hand smoke.
Save your health and save money in the process – that’s a win-win all around!
Stop smoking resources
American Cancer Society: Great American Smokeout Guide to Quitting Smoking
American Cancer Society: Great American Smokeout Resources and Tools
American Cancer Society: Helping a smoker quite: do’s and don’ts
American Lung Association – Help resources for quitting smoking
Centers for Disease Control: Smoking & tobacco tools and resources
Mayo Clinic 10 ways to help teens stay smoke-free
Teen’s Health: How can I quit smoking?
Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive. Don’t sleep and drive.
If you think the latter goes without saying or if you think it could never happen to you, don’t be so sure. In Asleep At the Wheel, Evelyn Kanter documents the scope of the problem: “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsiness or fatigue is the principal cause of up to 100,000 police-reported passenger vehicle crashes every year, killing at least 1,500 people and injuring 71,000. Many more fatigue-related crashes go unreported. But don’t blame it on the long-haul truckers: Less than 1 percent of all sleep-related crashes involve truck drivers, who are prohibited, by federal regulation, from driving more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period.”
Next week is dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of fatigue and driving, particularly among teens. If you’re a parent, an educator, or an employer, check out the Drowsy Driving Prevention Resource Center and Toolkit which was created by the National Sleep Foundation. It includes event ideas, bilingual fact sheets, and materials.
The folks at DrowsyDiving.com point out high risk situations:
Special at-risk groups for drowsy driving include young people, shift workers, commercial drivers, people with undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders, and business travelers. However, any driver can experience fatigue at one time or another. Your risk for drowsy driving increases if you are:
–Sleep deprived or fatigued
–Driving long distances without proper rest breaks
–Driving through the night or mid-afternoon
–Working more than 60 hours per week
–Working more than 1 job and your main job involves shift work
–Drinking even small amounts of alcohol
–Driving alone or on a long, rural, dark or boring road
–Taking sedating medications such as cold tablets, antihistamines or antidepressants
–Experiencing jet lag or reduced sleep as a result of traveling across many time zones
They offer these safety and prevention tips:
Before a trip, do the following to reduce your risk:
–Get enough sleep—most adults need 7-9 hours, and most teens need 8.5-9.5 hours, to maintain proper alertness during the day.
–Schedule proper breaks, about every 100 miles or 2 hours during long trips.
–Arrange for a travel companion—someone to talk with and share the driving.
–Avoid alcohol and sedating medications—check your labels or ask your doctor.
Countermeasures to prevent a fall-asleep crash while driving
–Watch for the warning signs of fatigue.
–Stop driving—pull off at the next exit or rest area, or find a place to sleep for the night.
–Take a nap—find a safe place to take a 15-20 minute nap (more than 20 minutes can make you groggy for 15 minutes or more after waking).
–Consume caffeine–the equivalent of two cups of coffee can increase alertness for several hours, and usually takes about 30 minutes to enter the bloodstream. Caffeine is available in various forms (coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chewing gum, tablets), and in various amounts. For example, the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee (about 135 mg) is about the same as 2-3 cups of tea or 3-4 cans of regular or diet cola.
–Try consuming caffeine before taking a short nap to get the benefits of both.
–Let a passenger take over the diving.