Am I a "Smoker?" Advice Please.

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johnp

New member
Apr 5, 2013
21
0
On my 18th birthday I walked into a tobacconist's shop and walked back out with a pipe, just because I could.
Two years later, while at college, I walked into a drug store and bought an ounce and a half of Prince Albert which I proceeded to smoke over the course of about a year.
That pattern continued, moving on to aromatic blends from a local brick and mortar, for the next several years. I basically only remembered that I had a pipe after I ran across someone else smoking one, and then I would pull it out, smoke it for a week or two, then forget about it for a few months.
Last year the insurance we get through work raised the premiums on "Smokers" by $30 a month compared to "Non-Smokers" and I paid it no mind at all, as I'd never really considered myself to be a smoker.
Now, they have sent us notice that we are to "certify" that we are non-smokers, and that if our status changes we are to update it immediately. Now, I got to wondering what exactly constituted a "Smoker" since I was going to have to sign this form certifying that I wasn't a smoker, and you just know that this is exactly the kind of thing an insurance company would use to deny you coverage in case of a burst appendix or something.
I read up on it, and I eventually found a place on the provider's website where they define a "Smoker" as someone who has used tobacco products more than 5 times in the preceding 3 months. The problem is, I recently (as in April 5th), bought myself a couple of new pipes which I decided I should try out with some non-aromatic tobaccos I picked out with the help of this very forum. I have to say I've been very happy with the new pipes and with the new tobaccos, and I've learned more about how to actually enjoy smoking in the past month than in the preceding 13 years.
Now, I didn't keep count of how many bowls of tobacco I smoked (because who does that?), but I feel pretty confident that it might be as many as 10. An astronomical number to be sure. Basically, I'll smoke a pipe if it's a Friday evening between about 6:30pm and 8pm, Saturday afternoon, or Sunday afternoon, and I don't have any plans for that day, and I don't have company over, and the weather is nice and I feel like sitting on my back porch swing. In other words, I don't even smoke a pipe every week, but I might smoke two or three in a day if the stars aline.
I think it's pretty clear that I technically fall under their definition of a "Smoker," at least for this three-month period, but I'm having trouble coming to grips with the arbitrary nature of it. I've never really considered myself to be a smoker as such, not that I have anything against them. I wouldn't even really mind paying the $30 a month, except I can't help but feel a bit of outrage that I'm being lumped in with people like my boss who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. I mean, first of all it's a pipe and I don't inhale, and second, it's absurd how little I even do smoke it.
I ride a bicycle to and from work, and I probably inhale more toxic fumes from sitting in traffic at stop lights than I will EVER get from my smoking, and my best friend is a cigarette smoker who I allow to smoke in my house, and who I sit next to at the bar every now and again. I get more smoke from his cigarettes than I do from my smoking!
As I see it I have three options:

1) "Lie" on the form and restrict myself henceforth to no more than 5 "uses" of tobacco per three-month period. And let's not get started on how they count what a "use" is. If it goes out and I have to re-light is that another "use?" What if I let it go out, and then come back hours later (or tomorrow?) and finish it? What if the pipe I'm smoking is a group 1? What if it's a Peterson House Pipe?
2) "Lie" on the form and continue smoking whenever I damn well please.
3) "Tell the Truth" (which seems like a lie to me) and make a point of smoking the smelliest English blend I can find right outside the HR manager's window twice a day every day from now on.

 

slownumbers39

Senior Member
Jul 29, 2012
371
0
.........they define a "Smoker" as someone who has used tobacco products more than 5 times in the preceding 3 months.
Be thankful that your are given that much leeway in your smoking allowance. My insurance company defines a smoker as anyone that smokes more than 1 cigar a month, and I smoke 1-2 bowls of pipe tobacco a week, not inhaling as well. My insurance rate has more than doubled since I STUPIDLY admited to smoking a pipe. I do agree with your list of options at the end.

 

soggycitybob

Member
Apr 30, 2013
222
0
Portland, OR
Unless they are testing for nicotine in your system, I vote you admit to being a "non-smoker". Your reasoning is spot on and I can't believe an occasional pipe is going to bust the actuarials' mortality tables.

 

teufelhund

Preferred Member
Mar 5, 2013
1,498
0
St. Louis, MO
Why not just lie about how much you smoke? People lie about a lot of crazy things to garner some advantages like how many kids they have or how much they make and even though those things are documented and they still get away with it. I would hardly think you're being fraudulant. Being a "Smoker" isn't as black and white as how many children you have. Screw their definition; it's a matter of opinion; arguing habits is like arguing semantics. Your insurance company is a lame biast multi-million dollar corporation and you may as well screw them over before they manage to screw you over regarding a claim. Because they will do their damndest to avoid a pay out... That is the only certainty.

 

johnp

New member
Apr 5, 2013
21
0
Why not just lie about how much you smoke?
That's certainly the one I'm leaning toward, unless I actually take up smoking regularly, which I am also considering.
I'm more than a little upset at just having been put in this position to begin with. Who are they to go around and start labeling me based on some ridiculous arbitrary metric? Why should I be put into a situation where I either have to give myself a label I don't feel accurately describes me, pay a penalty based on that label, and possibly face future penalties based on it; or perjure myself because of an insignificant technicality?

 

plateauguy

Preferred Member
Mar 19, 2013
2,413
7
I consider myself a "puffer" - someone who occasionally lights up and enjoys a pipe without inhaling. I love the feel and smell of the pipe, but don't crave it.
This is just part of the PC police's on-going war on tobacco.

 

checotah

Preferred Member
Feb 7, 2012
504
2
Is this medical insurance or life insurance? Can make a difference. When I was still working, I oversaw our insurance programs and saw those questions regularly appear on the various forms. Upon some subtle questioning, the carriers indicated the health insurance question was predominantly directed at cigarette smokers because of the lung cancer issues. The life insurance folks didn't differentiate because it was simply an actuarial table factor. None ever gave a specific definition of "smoker", and tended to get a little defensive when I postulated that people breathing second hand smoke could be construed as "smokers". So, short of a definitive from the carrier, and your current situation, I would answer, "No". However, might want to read the fine print; sometimes there are clauses voiding coverage if any questions are answered falsely.
BTW, many of the newer questionaires ask if you "use tobacco products" regularly and sometimes define what "regular" is.

 

johnp

New member
Apr 5, 2013
21
0
Is this medical insurance or life insurance? Can make a difference.
It's health insurance, and it specifically mentions pipes in the definition. It took me about two days of digging before I finally found the one place where they defined it.
*Edit*

Here you go.
In order to certify that you do not use tobacco, you must not have used a tobacco product more than five times in the previous three months.
A tobacco product is defined as cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, dip, or any other product that contains tobacco. It does not include an electronic cigarette or e-cigarette that does not contain tobacco and is designed expressly for smoking cessation.

 

brian64

Preferred Member
Jan 31, 2011
7,303
6,482
If you’re going to have to spend the money on the premium anyway, you might consider opting out of the coverage altogether and saving or investing that amount each month. Especially if you don’t normally go to the doctor on a regular basis for anything.
IMO, insurance should only be for catastrophes...not for routine health care services. People have insurance on their houses for things like fire...not for routine maintenance. If house insurance was used in the manner that “health” insurance is, doorknobs would cost a thousand dollars.

 

teufelhund

Preferred Member
Mar 5, 2013
1,498
0
St. Louis, MO
So you enjoyed less than 5 smokes in the past 3 months. :wink: Congratulations on your new health insurance. You won't be investigated for it. My father actually did that for a while and it's usually related to a lawsuit or large claim. So if you somehow end up with a smoking related ailment I guess it was predominantly caused by second hand smoke and or auto exhaust, campfires, radon and every other trace element that causes inhalation type ailments. I know I'm right; they can't prove how you got there and if it ever came down to you (Knock on wood) having some ailment and they were to investigate... You should have quit when you received the diagnosis. Don't dwell on it. As previously stated: Screw them...

 

jndyer

Preferred Member
Jul 1, 2012
730
0
I hate that you are in this position. A sane society would not even put its members through the ringer like this. It is about time that people stop worrying about other peoples private lives.
This will not stop with tobacco, it is already moving on to diet, exercise, etc., etc.etc. We all, smokers and non-smokers alike, need to fight against those who want to rule our lives. That is a role and right that is only fulfilled by my wife.
It is time to take back our private lives.

 

johnp

New member
Apr 5, 2013
21
0
And the best part, is that they don't even mention marijuana. I guess I picked the wrong recreational smoke. :|
It's just stupid.

 

johnp

New member
Apr 5, 2013
21
0
It looks like option 2 has won by a pretty decisive margin.
Thanks for helping me vent some of that steam.

 

simnettpratt

Preferred Member
Nov 21, 2011
1,516
1
I agree with not telling them. To me, it seems like the whole purpose of an insurance company is to take something for nothing; they happily take your money but try their best not to give anything back. And, if they do, they put your premiums up.

 

johnp

New member
Apr 5, 2013
21
0
unless they read this forum... in which case you're screwed
But that's just it: except for the preceding month I haven't once exceeded their arbitrary five times in three months definition at any point in the past decade, and I very likely won't at any point going on, either.
It's a fluke on par with getting struck by lightning on a clear day that this has come up when it has.
And besides, I'd like to see them prove that anything I've written here is anything more than an ongoing work of artistic fiction which I write in my spare time.

 
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