MONEY health

Vaping Is 95% Healthier and 40% Cheaper Than Smoking

man smoking e-cigarette vaping
Martina Paraninfi—Getty Images/Flickr

The pack-a-day smoker can save around $1,200 per year by vaping.

The CDC and various health organizations don’t want to endorse smoking or nicotine consumption in any form, so it’s understandable that they’ve emphasized first and foremost that e-cigarettes are bad for people.

According to a new study published by Public Health England on Wednesday, however, vaping is actually 95% less harmful than their smouldering counterpart.

The study, which was not funded by the tobacco lobby but rather the U.K.’s Department of Health, also noted that around half of the general public falsely assumed vaporizers and e-cigarettes were as unhealthy as a pack of Lucky’s, and that there’s no evidence vaporizers lead to smoking. In fact, the report suggested e-cigarettes as a useful tool to help people quit smoking.

What the report doesn’t mention is that jumping on the e-cig train could save considerable money compared to traditional smoking. According to NerdWallet, disposable e-cigarettes will mug you an average of $1,387 per year if you’re a pack-a-day smoker—considerably less than the $2,569 equivalent yearly cost of the real thing. While it’s still enough to make a dent in your budget, the savings could be critical for many, since tobacco use is higher among among people at a lower socioeconomic status.

If you really want to get that cost down, you can sacrifice some convenience and buy a reusable vape with liquid refills, getting the cost down to about $500 to $600 per year—an average savings of over $2,000. Well, it could save you that, plus a couple decades on your life.

Of course, smokers would save the most–and enjoy the best health and longest lives–by kicking the habit in all forms.

MONEY Sports

2 Ways It Just Got Easier (and Cheaper) to Watch NFL Games

student on couch cheering at Football on TV
Getty Images

Are you ready for some football?

Football fans have a couple of new reasons to cheer. For this upcoming season, DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package — which allows subscribers to watch every out-of-market NFL game live — will be significantly cheaper for college students and more accessible for everyone.

First, AT&T, which recently received approval to purchase DirecTV, announced that fans who live in an apartment, condo, or townhouse who are not DirecTV subscribers will be allowed to stream all NFL Sunday Ticket content online. (Previously, for the most part, the ability to stream NFL Sunday Ticket was limited to DirecTV subscribers only.) Streaming NFL Sunday Ticket packages start at $49.99 per month, for four months.

That’s a pretty steep price to pay if, say, you’re a college student. So, secondly, a special offer is being rolled out to college students, cutting the price of the same streaming package in half. A year ago, DirecTV introduced a pilot program allowing students at 10 universities to stream NFL content. Now, the NFL Sunday Ticket package is being opened to students enrolled at all American four-year colleges, at a price of $24.99 per month for four months.

To sign up for either streaming option, head to nflst.directv.com.

MONEY Internet

Verizon Internet Customers Can Now Watch HBO Without a Pay TV Package

HBO Now is now available if you have Verizon broadband.

On Tuesday, HBO and Verizon announced a new partnership allowing Verizon broadband customers to sign up for the Internet-only HBO Now service, starting immediately.

TV fans had begged HBO for years to introduce a streaming service that didn’t require the usual pay TV subscription. The TV giant finally obliged by launching HBO Now in April, at a price of $14.99 per month. At the beginning, however, HBO Now was available exclusively on Apple TV and Optimum.

Verizon broadband customers now have access to HBO Now too. Free 30-day trials of HBO Now are currently available via verizon.com/hbonow. After the introductory period ends, subscribers would pay $14.99 per month to keep the Internet-only service, which offers instant access to the usual HBO content, including series like “Game of Thrones” and hundreds of movies and sports and comedy specials.

For the time being, only Verizon’s broadband customers—Fios or otherwise—have access to HBO Now. Verizon says that eventually HBO Now will be open to 100+ million Verizon Wireless customers as well, though it hasn’t been announced when that option will be available.

MORE: Get Ready for Your Internet Bill to Soar
7 Streaming TV Packages That Will Let You Cut the Cord for Good

MONEY TV

5 Reasons Why Comcast Stream Is a Bad Deal

The $15 per month streaming service sounds an amazing value. It's not.

On Monday, Comcast introduced a new streaming TV service called, appropriately, Stream. It’ll launch in beta in the Boston area toward the end of summer, and the plan calls for a continued rollout to Chicago and Seattle in the fall. By early 2016, the service is expected to be available nationwide.

What’ll grab your attention right away is what seems to be an incredibly low price for a service that includes HBO: just $15 per month. Also surprising is that Comcast—renowned for frustrating customers with high prices and poor customer service even in its hometown of Philadelphia—swears that Stream subscribers will enjoy a dream, hassle-free user experience. “We want to make ordering Stream as easy as buying a song online,” the Comcast press release states. “And make tuning in to a show as simple as opening an email.”

But here are a handful of reasons why Stream isn’t quite the amazing value it’s pumped up to be.

Your bill will be much more than $15 per month. Comcast explains in its post that Stream is “unlike anything we’ve ever offered: no extra device or additional equipment required…or even a TV.”

What is required, however, is a broadband Internet connection (which is true for any streaming)—but not just any connection. In the case, you need a connection provided by Comcast on a monthly subscription basis. So, in addition to the $15 per month for Stream, you’ll also have to pay a monthly Comcast Internet bill, which might run $50 or $60.

What’s more, while no extra devices or additional equipment are needed for Stream, Comcast Internet customers do need modems. Unless you buy your own and hook it up—which few people bother with—you’ll be paying Comcast an extra $10 per month or so for the privilege of renting a piece of equipment that costs maybe $50 to $75 to own outright. Very quickly, you’ll see how that $15 monthly bill turns into $75 or $85, before local and national taxes and fees are added in.

Most of the content is free on regular TV. For now, the Stream package includes HBO and broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and PBS stations that “are typically available free via high-definition antennas that cost about $25,” the New York Times noted. We suppose there’s some value in being able to stream the networks on a device rather than watch them on TV, but such a service would be much more useful if you could stream via a non-Comcast Internet provider, or if you could watch in a location not in very close proximity to your TV. But you can’t because of the point below.

You can only stream live TV at home. One of the most appealing parts of Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, and other streaming services made for cord cutters is that customers can watch on devices anywhere they go, so long as there’s wi-fi. Not so with Comcast Stream. Subscribers will be able to use the service’s cloud-based DVR to download and watch on-demand shows and movies at any location—presumably, for an extra fee in many cases—but if you want to watch live TV, you’ll have to stay in proximity to your home router.

“You’ll only be able to stream live TV while you’re connected to your home Wi-Fi network,” one BGR.com writer explains, which vastly diminishes the utility and value of the service. “Why would you want to live stream network TV in your home? If you’re in your house and you want to watch a network TV program live, you can get it by flipping on your TV and having your antenna deliver the signal… for free.”

There are cheaper options—from Comcast itself. As highlighted above, to get Comcast Stream, you’ll have to pay somewhere north of $75 per month, once Comcast broadband and the fees are tallied up. If all you want are the basic networks and HBO, there are much less expensive options, including some from Comcast. Re/Code’s Peter Kafka reported that, among the other possibilities, Comcast offers a package with basic TV, HBO, and broadband Internet starting at just $45 in some parts of the country.

HBO is the only pay TV channel included. Unlike Sling TV, which cable channels like ESPN, AMC, and TNT in its basic package, Stream contains only one channel that people cannot otherwise watch for free: HBO. The cost of Stream is the same as HBO’s stand-along streaming service, HBO Now. Yet because an HBO Now subscription does not require Comcast Internet service, and because unlike Stream, HBO Now can be viewed anywhere rather than only at home, essentially “from a cord cutter’s perspective, Comcast is charging $15 per month for a less desirable version of HBO Now,” suggests BGR.com.

MONEY

These Are the 5 Richest Superheroes

The wealthiest superhero is worth over $90 trillion.

It’s pretty good to be a superhero. As if it weren’t enough to have the awesome fighting powers themselves, the men and women who grace our comic book covers and headline blockbuster action movies also get spiffy outfits, cool names, dashing good looks, and, in many cases, a huge fortune to help fund their crime-fighting adventures. As Comic-Con kicks off in San Diego, we at Money decided to research how much the wealthiest caped crusaders are worth and see which champion is the most (economically) powerful.

Read next: The 10 Richest People of All Time

  • 5. Emma Frost

    Emma Frost
    20th Century Fox—courtesy Everett Collection Emma Frost

    Net Worth: $1-3 billion

    Frost, a reformed villain, now helps lead the X-Men with her psychic powers—and her enormous fortune. As chair of the board and CEO of Frost International, a multi-billion dollar electronics conglomerate, the telepath has considerable financial resources. And while there’s no specific figure placed on her wealth, her liquidated holdings were apparently sufficient to fund the X-Men’s island base for “the foreseeable future.” So that’s probably a lot.

  • 4. Professor Charles Xavier

    Professor X
    20th Century Fox—courtesy Everett Collection Professor X

    Net Worth: $3.5 billion

    Running a mutant superhero team isn’t cheap, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that two X-Men leaders make the list. Professor Charles Xavier, the founder of the X-Men and Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, is worth $3.5 billion; at least according to Fantomex, who tried to extort Xavier (New X-Men #129). You’d think the same person who can read everyone’s mind might have a little bit more money on hand (he’d only be #497 in the Forbes 500), but Xavier seems to have bigger priorities than acquiring cash.

  • 3. Bruce Wayne

    Bruce Wayne
    Warner Bros—courtesy Everett Collection Bruce Wayne

    Net Worth: $9.2 billion

    Considering Bruce Wayne’s superpower is essentially “being rich enough to afford gadgets and karate training,” it makes sense that the Batman would be pretty loaded. Forbes estimates Wayne’s worth at $9.2 billion, and lists his company, Wayne Enterprises, as having an annual revenue of $31.3 billion.

  • 2. Tony Stark

    Iron Man
    Paramount—courtesy Everett Collection Iron Man

    Net Worth: $12.4 billion

    Tony Stark, otherwise known as Iron Man, narrowly edges out Wayne in the battle of billionaire playboys. Interestingly, while Forbes ranks Stark’s wealth ahead of Batman, the publication lists Stark Industries’ revenue ($20.3 billion) as less than that of Wayne Enterprises. Chalk it up to Wayne’s legendary philanthropy.

  • 1. T’Challa

    Marvel Black Panther

    Net Worth: $90.7 trillion

    T’Challa, the Black Panther, isn’t just the richest superhero. He’s almost undoubtedly the wealthiest fictional character of all time.

    How is it even possible for one person to have this much wealth? T’Challa is the king of Wakanda, a fictional African country with nearly all of the world’s reserves of Vibranium. And Vibranium, being a super-strong metal (Captain America’s shield is made out of Vibranium), doesn’t come cheap.

    According to the comics, the material costs $10,000 per gram, and Wakanda’s Vibranium vaults have 10,000 tons of the stuff (Doomwar #1). A little math and that amount of Vibranium would cost more than the GDP of the entire world.

    Unfortunately for T’Challa, a plot by Doctor Doom to steal Wakanda’s Vibranium forced the king to release a fail safe rending the stockpile inert, and potentially worthless. But on the upside, Black Panther is getting a movie in 2018. So you win some, you lose some.

MONEY gambling

$1 Billion Powerball Jackpot Is Coming

person grabbing powerball ticket
Scott Olson—Getty Images

At same time, the odds of winning are worse than ever.

Earlier this week, the New York Gaming Commission, which is a member of the Multi-State Lottery Association, announced it was tweaking the odds of winning the lottery to raise more revenues. But don’t get excited: Your chances of winning aren’t getting better.

Precisely, the odds of winning Powerball, which are now 1 in 175,223,510, are shooting up to 1 in 292,201,338. So your chances of hitting it big in the lottery, which are already far less likely than getting killed by a shark or struck by lightning, are about to get much worse.

While there is arguably nothing positive about the lottery before or after the changes are instituted, the big brains at FiveThirtyEight point out that there is somewhat of a silver lining to the news that the odds of winning are getting worse.

Assuming that all of the states that participate in Powerball get on board with the changes, sooner or later some luckier-than-ever winner stands to win an epically huge chunk of cash. “The chances of a Powerball win making some future player a billionaire are radically higher. Like, 7.5 times as high,” FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey explains.

Basically, a $1 billion jackpot is likely to happen in part because the likelihood of anyone winning an individual Powerball is decreasing. The longer that no one wins, the bigger the pot gets. What’s more, as the pot grows, the number of tickets sold grows as well, which in turn increases the pace of the pot’s rise.

Hickey ran simulations of five years of play comparing the old and new odds. With the old odds, only 8.5% of the five-year simulations wound up with a $1 billion Powerball jackpot. However, under the new scenario, in which the odds of anyone winning are worse and the pot will therefore rise and rise, a $1 billion jackpot appeared in nearly two-thirds (63.4%) of the simulated five-year periods.

MONEY Travel

A Week’s Stay at These National Parks Is Summer’s Best Vacation Bargain

463009469
Chris Murray—Getty Images Acadia National Park

Don't forget to pack a tent.

Some of the most awe-inspiring places to camp across the United States are in the National Park system, which means that staying inside their boundaries is super affordable. Here is a sampling of attractions and prices for maintained campgrounds at different parks across the country. The mean price to stay at these destinations — parking and camping together — is around $160 per week. Have you packed your bags yet?

1. Acadia National Park

Trek up to Maine to Acadia National Park. You’ll find Cadillac Mountain, the tallest point on the Atlantic coast, beautiful ocean views, countless acres of forest, and New England’s classic rocky beaches. For seven-day access with your vehicle, you’ll pay $25; it’s only $12 for bikers, hikers, and pedestrians. From there, you have two camping locations from which to choose: Blackwoods Campground and Seawall Campground. Cost is between $22 and $30 per night. Reservations are recommended in the peak season from May through October.

2. Yosemite National Park

There are a whopping 13 campgrounds in California’s Yosemite National Park. That doesn’t mean finding a camping spot will necessarily be easy at this popular destination. With Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, Cathedral Peak, and more attractions — you’ll want to plan ahead. Daily camping fees range from $12 to $26, with parking adding another $30 for a seven-day pass ($15 for bike or foot access). Though most sites require reservations, six of the grounds are on a first come, first served basis.

3. Olympic National Park

With close to one million acres, Washington’s Olympic National Park boasts everything from snowcapped peaks to wild winding rivers to gorgeous Pacific Coast shoreline. If you’re unable to hike for some reason, check out 30-mile Quinault Rainforest Loop. The road snakes all the way around Lake Quinault on the south side of the park. You get access for your car for $20 a week or hike in for just $7. Camping is another $15 to $22 per day, depending on which of the 16 locations you choose. Most (15) of the campsites operate on a first come, first served basis.

4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

You might not know that America’s most visited national park is the Great Smoky Mountains. Its location straddling the North Carolina and Tennessee border makes its majestic mountains, diverse wildlife, and unique culture easily accessible to people traveling from all directions. There are a variety of camping options, including backcountry, frontcountry, group campgrounds, horse camps, and even LeConte Lodge (only reached by hiking). The grounds maintained by the park cost between $14 and $23. Oh, and entrance to this park is entirely free!

5. Glacier National Park

463009567
Howard Snyder—Getty ImagesWild Goose Island in Saint Mary’s Lake in Glacier National Park at sunset.

Between Logan Pass, the Highline Trail, St. Mary Lake, and Grinnell Glacier, there’s plenty to see and do at Glacier National Park in Montana. There are 1,009 sites in all between the 13 campgrounds the park maintains. Prices range between $10 to $23 per night with an additional $25 for week-long parking during the summer months. Since many grounds operate on a first come, first served basis, you can check the status on this handy map for updates.

6. Grand Teton National Park

Majorly impressive alpine terrain is one of the highlights of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. You can float the great Snake River, drive the scenic 42-mile park loop, hike the Jenny Lake Trail, and more. Park your car for $30 or walk your way in for just $15. Camping at one of the six campgrounds is $22 per site (some have a utility surcharge). No reservations are accepted. Maximum stay at the Jenny Lake grounds is seven nights per year.

7. Grand Canyon National Park

Of course, Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park has to make this ultimate list for its expansive views and stunning geology. Talk about huge: The canyon itself is a mile deep, 277 river miles long, and 18 miles at its widest. Not only is this park a true national treasure, but it’s also considered one of the natural wonders of the world. Admission is $30 per vehicle. With camping, you need to act fast. There are three campgrounds total, and only two take reservations. Prices range between $18 to $25 per night with a variety of options.

8. Big Bend National Park

497322067
Danita Delimont—Getty ImagesChisos Mountains, Evening Light on Pulliam Ridge, Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA

For mountains, desert, and all sorts of critters, visit Big Bend National Park in Texas. There are over 150 miles of trails that snake through desert oases, canyons, rivers, and more. Three frontcountry campgrounds offer 184 sites total for $14 a night. Vehicles cost $25 for the week and plain entry is $12 per person.

9. Badlands National Park

South Dakota’s Badlands National Park has some impressive fossil beds among its rocky skyline. The Notch Trail is challenging but definitely worth the effort for the view at the end. And everyone in your family can see the sights by driving the Loop Scenic Byway. Entry costs $15 for the week via car or $7 if you hike or bike. There are two campgrounds that cost $18 per night for a basic tent site.

10. Shenandoah National Park

Would you believe the Shenandoah National Park is a mere 75 miles outside Washington, D.C.? Believe it. Getting your vehicle into the park will cost $20 for the week. Camping at one of the park’s four campgrounds is a modest $15 to $17 per night. That’s not a lot to enjoy a good chunk of the Appalachian Trail, Bearfence Mountain, and the Old Rag Mountain Hike.

For information on all parks, visit the National Park Service.

More From Wise Bread:

 

MONEY freebies

Oregon Is Celebrating Marijuana Legalization With Free Weed

crowd of people smoking marijuana
Jim West—Alamy

Not only are people free to smoke weed—the weed is free.

As of July 1, new Oregon laws go into effect making it legal for adults ages 21 and up to possess and use recreational marijuana. It’s legal to grow marijuana in the state—up to four plants per residence, out of public view—and share it with other of-age adults too.

Applications for large-scale growers and retailers aren’t being accepted until early 2016, and no Oregon stores are expected to have marijuana for sale until the fall of 2016. For the time being, then, while recreational marijuana use is legal, people aren’t allowed to buy or sell it.

The odd situation—weed is legal, but there’s nowhere to buy it—has caused marijuana proponents and entrepreneurs to take the very welcomed step of simply giving samples away. The Oregonian reports that the Portland chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) will celebrate the momentous event by gathering on the west side of the Burnside Bridge at 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30. At midnight (therefore July 1), all 21+ adults with ID will be given free marijuana and cannabis seeds, courtesy of medical marijuana providers and activists.

“While it becomes legal to possess and cultivate cannabis, there is no legal place in Oregon to buy marijuana itself or cannabis seeds and starts,” a statement from the group explains. “Portland NORML will educate the public and our partners will give away thousands of seeds and hundreds of pounds of marijuana this year so Washington State and the black market do not benefit from our new marijuana legality.”

Later in the week, on Friday, July 3, an event called Weed the People is being held at the MCF Craft Brewing Systems facility in North Portland. Admission to the event isn’t free—advance tickets cost $40—but once visitors are inside, marijuana is indeed free to use on the premises or bring home for later enjoyment. Each attendee is welcomed to take as much as 7 grams, cultivated by a range of Oregon growers that have been producing the state’s supply of medicinal marijuana.

“This is more than free weed,” organizers say on the event site. “This is more than vendors, food and vapes. This is history in the making!”

Read next: What This 20-Year Study on Marijuana Use Means for the Pot Market

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com