Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Cost of Smoking

I am doing this post as a way of discouraging myself (and others!) from smoking. There are many costs associated with smoking beyond the mere cost of the cigarettes themselves but I will start with that.

I consider myself to be a light smoker. I smoke about 5-8 cigarettes per day or a pack every two or three days. The current cost of a pack is $6.00. They can be obtained a little cheaper but for the sake of this equation I will use that amount. So I average 4 packs per week so that is $24 per week and at 52 weeks that is $1,248 per year. Then if you multiplied that number by how many years I have smoked which is approximately 25 years give or take it is $31,200. Just think of the things you could do with $31K. Whoa! It is a down payment on house, a pretty nice car or a nice little start for my retirement.

There are plenty of hidden costs as well that I don’t think people take into consideration. For example:

Life Insurance: Smokers have a greater risk of dying at a younger age than non smokers and this risk is reflected in higher life insurance premium payments.

Health Insurance: Smokers have a greater risk of medical problems than non smokers and this risk is reflected in their medical insurance premium payments.

Health Care: Since smokers frequently have more medical problems than non smokers, they must pay more to take care of these problems.

Medications: More medical problems for smokers usually results more prescription medicine taken by smokers than non smokers.

Home Owner's Insurance: Smokers have a greater risk of burning down their house than non smokers and this risk is reflected in higher home owner's insurance premium payments.

Value of the House: Smoking leaves a bad smell in a house thus decreasing the value to potential buyers.

Value of Your Possessions: Just as with the house, smoking leaves a bad smell to many of the items in your house thus decreasing their value.

Car Insurance: Smokers have a greater risk of getting into a car accident than non smokers and this risk is reflected in their car insurance premium payments.

Car Resale Value: Smoking leaves a bad smell in a car thus decreasing the value to potential buyers or when traded-in for another car.

Earn Less Money: Studies have found that smokers earn between 4% to 11% less money than their non smoking counterparts.

Less Social Security / Pension Benefits: Since smokers earn less than non smokers, they receive less overall social security and pensions benefit than non smokers.

Cost of Cleaning: Whether it’s the inside of their home, the inside of their car or their clothes, smokers have to spend more to keep things clean.

Dental Care: Smokers spend more on dental care and special dental products than non smokers.

Lost Interest: All the extra money that smokers must spend means that money can't be saved resulting in lost interest.

When you look beyond the cost of the pack of cigarettes and incorporate all the other monetary costs associated with smoking, you begin to see smoking is a huge drain on ones personal finances.

Then there are all the health issues. Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It accounts for more than 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual deaths. Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders. These include fatty buildups in arteries, several types of cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (lung problems). Atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty substances in the arteries) is a chief contributor to the high number of deaths from smoking. Many studies detail the evidence that cigarette smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attack.

Cigarette and tobacco smoke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes are the six major independent risk factors for coronary heart disease that you can modify or control. Cigarette smoking is so widespread and such a significant risk factor that the Surgeon General has called it "the leading preventable cause of disease and deaths in the United States."

Cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by itself. When it acts with other factors, it greatly increases risk. Smoking increases blood pressure, decreases exercise tolerance and increases the tendency for blood to clot. Smoking also increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypass surgery.

Cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor for young men and women. It produces a greater relative risk in persons under age 50 than in those over 50. Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives greatly increase their risk of coronary heart disease and stroke compared with nonsmoking women who use oral contraceptives. Smoking decreases HDL (good) cholesterol. Cigarette smoking combined with a family history of heart disease also seems to greatly increase the risk.

There are social issues that are associated with smoking as well. In the town I grew up in (Los Gatos) you are not allowed to smoke in public - period. In the surronding cities it is unlawful to smoke in city parks and at the beach as well. When Dave and I went up to the city (SF) for my birthday, the hotel was completely non-smoking so I had to go downstairs and out in front of the hotel to smoke. You are almost a pariah if you smoke. Even when I was on the cruise, the only place you could smoke was a dank little bar at the lower end of the ship. It always amazes me when I travel and a restaurant asks "Smoking or Non-Smoking?"

With all those reasons stacked against me - you'd think it would be easy to quit. Well it isn't... just like losing weight and changing my lifestyle, it is going to take hard work and determination to quit but I think that it is well worth the effort. Bottom line: I need to quit it's just a matter of when.


  1. I didn't know you were a smoker. Good post to list the reasons why you should stop! :)

  2. I always get flack because it was easy for me to quit because I was only a social smoker over maybe a 2 yr period and having more than one in a day made me sick, lol! But I know will power has everything to do with it. My husband has been a heavy smoker on and off since he was in the military. He quits for long periods, cold turkey. It's just the first few weeks that he is hard to live with!! I would much rather have him "clean" for all the reasons listed above. :D It's worth it!!!! He has had health professionals tell him that every single day he goes with out a cigarette adds to his life span. One day at a time!!! I commend your courage!

  3. As soon as I read the cost I thought just think what that would have added up to had you been able to invest that money over the 25 years...the magic of compound interest!

    It's never too late to stop smoking and they say your body starts healing soon after you stop. At one time I thought about starting to see if it would help me to lose weight! I'm glad I never started because I've seen people stop and it's hard work.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Your b/p is great at 117/60!!

  4. Best of luck to you in your endeavor to quit! I'm trying to get my Dave to quit as well!

  5. Reading this post just made me so glad I gave up already lol. The thing I still battle with was i ENJOYED smoking, i still think like a smoker in many ways, but its been around 11 years since i touched one, although i do passive smoke deliberately now and again lol

  6. My husband and I quit cold turkey almost 15 years ago, best thing we ever did!!!!

  7. I used to smoke one ounce of tobacco a day seven days a week. I stopped 25 years ago. The best decision I ever made. I found this read very interesting.

  8. I smoked for 10 years - I always told myself I would quit once cigarettes got more than $1.50 a pack, but that didn't stop me.

    Watching my Dad die of throat cancer stopped me though - he smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 30+ years, and had been a non-smoker for 10 years before being diagnosed.

    Please stop . . . soon! :D


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