Deducting the Cost of Smoking Cessation Programs Under Internal Revenue Code Section 213

This Note argues that enrollment fees for a smoking cessation program should be classified as deductible medical expenses. Part I defends this conclusion without questioning the accepted interpretation of section 213(e). Recent medical evidence indicates that the nicotine addiction that cessation program patients seek to break is itself a disease. And even prior to the onset of more serious health consequences, sustained cigarette smoking significantly impairs the functioning of the lungs and heart. Under this analysis, enrollment fees should be deductible as expenses for the treatment of an existing disease or defect, and as “amounts paid . . . for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body.” Part II reconsiders whether the language or logic of section 213 requires the demonstration of imminent probability of disease to justify deducting the cost of a preventive health measure. This Part argues that cessation program costs qualify as “amounts paid . . . for the prevention: of disease” within the meaning of the Code, notwithstanding the delay between smoking and the onset of smoking-related diseases. Thus, the Note concludes that the cost of a smoking cessation program, whether viewed as treatment or prevention, should qualify for a medical expense deduction under I.R.C. § 213.