NEW YORK (MainStreet)—The Wall Street Journal's Khadeeja Safdar reported yesterday on a Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta study that correlates smoking habits with wages. The researchers, Julie L. Hotchkiss and M. Melinda Pitts, found that former smokers earn more money than either non-smokers or current smokers—5% more and 20% more, respectively.

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Go ahead—start trying to shoe-horn yourself in there. You only have two or three a day? Or, you're not a smoker, unless you're drinking? Well, Hotchkiss and Pitts have news for you: even one cigarette a day is enough to "trigger a wage gap," the Journal reported.

Why a wage gap, then? Apparently, it's not about lost wages because you keep stepping out to the parking garage for a drag. And, it's not about lost time, either, because of epic bouts of bronchitis.

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It's about the relationship between education level and income. The more degrees you have, the more likely you are to be smart. The smarter you are, the more likely you are to earn more money and not smoke (or have quit smoking).

It's about social and geographic context, too. "The researchers noted that education level was the largest contributing variable," said Safdar.

"Nonsmokers tend to be more educated, are less likely to have spouses who smoke, and live in states where cigarette prices are higher than smokers."

--Written by William Richards for MainStreet

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