Should cigar smokers be treated like drug addicts?
The reader in question wrote that he was applying for a life insurance policy, and when asked about tobacco use, responded that he occasionally smokes a cigar. He was immediately told he'd be classified as a smoker, and that the policy required a saliva swab, which would find traces of nicotine within a year of use.
Several years ago, a friend of mine, and a pretty regular cigar smoker, applied for a life insurance policy. He told the agent he was a "non-smoker." Regardless, the agent said that blood and urinalysis were required.
When the lab called my friend to set up the test appointment, it was scheduled three weeks later because he would be traveling on business overseas. During that time period, he stopped smoking cigars, drank as much fruit juice and water as he could daily, and basically cleansed his system. He passed the urinalysis and blood test with flying colors. For the record, I am in no way endorsing his methodology. Besides, what worked for him may not work for someone else.
I related this to the reader, who responded that he was only applying for $100K, which required the swab. If he was applying for $200K or more, that would require blood and urine. The "accuracy" of a swab test finding traces of nicotine going back one year sounds dubious - but they do some pretty wild stuff on CSI - so I guess it's best to be prepared for anything these days.
This, among other things, gives me pause about insurance companies in general. The reader is most likely financially sound, and has the foresight to protect his family, but because he occasionally enjoys a cigar, he's made to feel like a drug addict.
~ Gary Korb