The Real Cost of Smoking: Quitting Saves More Than Money

The cost of smoking is higher than you might imagine. Not only do prices for cigarettes around much of the world keep increasing, it’s hard to put a price on the lost years of life and the years spent suffering with smoking-related diseases. Quitting is the best way to save money, and yourself.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and around the world. It causes lung cancer, coronary heart disease, COPD and many other conditions, and takes an average of 10 years off a smoker’s life. This is why governments around the world discourage smoking with measures like tax increases on cigarettes, smoke-free air laws and many other interventions. For the smoker, the biggest impact of anti-smoking policies comes in the form of the rising cost of cigarettes, but we shouldn’t forget that the cost of smoking isn’t just financial.

The Cost of Smoking in the U.S.

The cost of cigarettes keeps increasing. Website the Awl annually tracks the cost of cigarettes in every state, and their 2016 list shows a wide variation in the cost of cigarettes depending on where in the U.S. you live. In Kentucky, a pack of Marlboro Reds costs $5.19, compared to a whopping $12.60 in New York. Averaged across every state, the cost of a pack of 20 Marlboro is $7.32.

Based on this, the average pack-a-day smoker in the U.S. spends $2,671.80 on cigarettes every year. However, the annual expenditure varies depending on where you live, from $1,894.35 in Kentucky to $4,599 in New York. If you smoke two packs per day, these figures double.

Over five years of smoking 20 cigarettes a day, you’ll spend $13,359 on cigarettes. This is a huge sum of money. You could wipe away your credit card debt, put it towards a new car, take your family away on a lavish vacation, cross a few items off your “bucket list,” pay a year’s worth of your mortgage or do tons of other things with that money. If you smoke more per day or continue smoking for longer, you could do even more with all the cash you’ll save.

The Additional Costs of Smoking

The financial cost of smoking is one thing, but this hardly scratches the surface of everything smoking costs you. As well as the increasingly large sums of money smokers spend on cigarettes, the physical consequences of smoking for your health also have to be taken into account. With a wide range of serious and often debilitating health conditions linked to smoking, including various cancers, stroke, COPD, arthritis, cataracts and much more. Smoking also reduces your fertility, possibly preventing you from successfully conceiving and having a child.

According to the American Cancer Society, each pack of cigarettes costs about $35 in healthcare costs to you, on top of the amount you actually pay for the pack. It might not be easy to put a price on the emotional hardship for yourself and your family, but it’s safe to say that this is yet another reason that the price of each pack is the least of your worries when it comes to the cost of smoking.

Is Smoking Really Worth the Cost?

The question that emerges after all of this is whether it’s really worth it. Do the benefits smokers feel they gain from lighting up really offset all of these costs? Are the effects of nicotine really worth losing 10 years of your life over?

Almost everybody would answer that smoking really isn’t worth it. It’s important to remember that there are benefits to smoking, though, however short-term they may be, and despite the fact that they’re drowned out by the downsides. For example, smoking makes smokers feel more relaxed and provides some temporary relief from stress. The problem is that this doesn’t translate into long-term stress reduction (periodic nicotine withdrawal often leads to an overall increase in stress), and stress reduction doesn’t seem as much of a positive if it means risking lung cancer or a stroke.

Quitting Smoking to Save Your Money (And Your Life)

If you – like most Americans – wish you had more money to spend on your loved ones and to help you live a more comfortable life, quitting smoking should be a priority. Although the price of a pack of cigarettes might not seem too much, it quickly adds up, and with the additional costs of smoking thrown in, there are lots of reasons to make a positive change in your life.

The good news is there are many different approaches you can use to quit smoking, and if you get some support – in one form or another – you’ll have a better chance of successfully quitting. Whether you choose medications like Chantix, nicotine replacement therapies, alternative nicotine products like smokeless tobacco or e-cigarettes, or even quit-smoking counseling, it can give you the extra push you need to wave goodbye to a harmful habit. The cost of smoking is large, but the benefits of quitting are even bigger.