Think you aren’t affected? In your dreams.

Alaska smokers bought 31 million packs of cigarettes in 2011.

Each pack costs smokers a statewide average of $9. But every pack of cigarettes costs Alaskans, smokers and non-smokers alike, an additional $19 per pack from smoking-related damages.

That $579 million figure? That’s what Alaskans cough up every year. In 2010, smoking cost Alaskans an estimated $348 million in direct medical expenditures and an additional $231 million in lost productivity due to premature tobacco-related deaths.

$579 million. That’s equal to a round-trip ticket to Hawaii for you and 800,000 of your friends. As Alaskans, we could focus that money elsewhere. How about a better road system? Or funding for schools and scholarships for our next generation?