$44 billion spent annually on tobacco.
$30 billion annual shortfall to end world hunger.
Last year, the American people spent upwards of $44 billion on tobacco products. It’s become such a problem that low-income New Yorkers are spending nearly a quarter of their annual salary to feed their cigarette addiction.
Incredibly, the aforementioned $44 billion does not include the health costs that tobacco products inflict upon its users. Now compare the tobacco expense with a study compiled by The United Nations, which estimated that it would take at least $30 billion per year to solve the food crisis.
According to the study conducted by The United Nations, the American tobacco addiction exceeds the annual required cost to solve the world-hunger crisis. Another study, conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP), calculated that $3.2 billion would be needed per year to reach all 66 million hungry school-age children.
The tobacco consumption problem is not a secret; most Americans do realize that tobacco addiction is an epidemic that deserves attention. While tobacco consumption has actually decreased in past years, $44 billion is a gigantic amount despite the positive trend. 18 percent of American adults were cigarette smokers in 2012, according to a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics.
The vast majority of hungry people (827 million) reside in developing countries. Asia has the largest trend of hungry people, but the number has been shrinking significantly the last several years. Africa, however, has not had the same luck. A third of the deaths that occurred in the last year in sub-Saharan Africa were caused by extreme hunger.
Americans continue to spend $44 billion on tobacco, yet many of these people do not give world hunger a second thought. The spending habits displayed by American tobacco consumers are both alarming and depressing; the amount spent on tobacco could provide the funds needed to solve the world hunger crisis on a yearly basis, and then some.
If the tobacco consuming Americans knew what their yearly expenses amounted to, would it change any mindsets? Would it be worth noting that the price of their addiction amounts to more than the estimated cost of ending world hunger? A deadly habit does not constitute more importance than the starvation of another person.
A call to action must be made for the hungry people in this world. If Americans can afford $44 billion to fund an unhealthy and dangerous addiction, can we not afford to redirect this money towards a more beneficial cause? America has the money and resources, yet tobacco spending curtails the potential America has to help others less fortunate.
– Zachary Wright