Just about every person who smokes cigarettes considers quitting at some point — and for good reason. Smoking is among the costliest habits. If you’ve considered quitting, but haven’t yet found your motivation, you might want to consider the habit’s long-term financial impact. You’d be surprised by how much you could save your health and finances if you quit smoking today.
The third Thursday in November — Nov. 17 this year — marks the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. The annual event is designed to encourage smokers to quit cigarettes en masse. Although rates have dropped by more than half to roughly 17 percent over the last five decades, about 40 million Americans still smoke cigarettes. Tobacco use remains the largest cause of preventable disease and early death in the world. Find out how much this habit can cost you and what it takes to quit.
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How Much Does Smoking Cost?
In 2015, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes was $5.51 — although the price in most states is between $6 and $8. Your region and personal habits, however, can quickly send that number much higher. In New York, for example, the cost per pack nearly doubles to $10.58 or more when all applicable taxes are factored in.
That’s because each state levies its own tax on top of the tax the federal government charges for every pack of cigarettes sold. Those taxes range from 17 cents per pack in cheap states like Missouri to $4.35 per pack in the most expensive state, New York.
Even the average of $5.51, however, comes out to almost $40 per week for a pack-a-day smoker. Multiply that by 52 weeks and that’s about $2,000 a year — and that’s just the direct cost of the product itself. The average smoker likely coughs up between $1 million and $2 million over the course of their lifetime when you add indirect costs like health care and lost productivity. according to WalletHub.
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The True Cost of Smoking
|Smoking-Related Expense||Description||Average Cost Per Month||Average Cost Per Year|
|Cigarettes||Average pack of cigarettes cost $5.51.||$165.30||$1,983.60|
|State Cigarette Tax||The state cigarette tax national average is $1.65 per pack.||$49.50||$594.00|
|Dry Cleaning||Dry cleaning might be required to get smoke smells out of clothing.||$40||$480.00|
|Air Freshener||Many smokers invest in extra air fresheners for their homes or cars.||$10||$120.00|
|Deep Teeth Cleaning and Whitening||Cleanings should occur every six months. Whitening is typically not done more than once a year.||n/a||Cleaning: $350 Whitening: $650|
|House Repainting and Carpet Cleaning||Smokers often have to repaint their home and clean their carpets.||n/a||House repainting: $1,670 Carpet cleaning: $174|
|Life Insurance Policy||A 40-year-old smoker can expect to pay more than three times what a non-smoker would pay for a $500,000 term life insurance policy.||$118.98||$1,427.76|
|Total Cost Per Year: $7,449.36|
|Costs are based on averages; your exact cost might vary.|
That’s a lot of money spent each year on a smoking habit. Here are just a few ways you could be spending your money more productively:
- Savings: With the money you’re not spending on cigarettes, you could open a high-interest savings account, money market account or CD to not only store your savings, but grow it.
- Investments: If you want to take that growth to the next level, investments — like stocks, bonds and mutual funds — are great ways to earn a higher return on the money you save by kicking the habit.
- Retirement: About 41 percent of Americans approaching retirement age have no money saved for life beyond their earning years, according to a 2016 report by the Government Accountability Office. You could always add the money you’re not spending on smoking to your 401k or IRA accounts.
- Paying Down Debt: Another great way to make use of your extra non-smoker money is to pay down your debt. Just one year without smoking could knock out over $2,000 in debt — or more.
- College Savings: The average cost of one year of college at an in-state public university was $24,061 in 2015-16, according to CollegeData.com. If you want to start saving for your child’s education, you could use money gained by dropping your smoking habit to do so.
The Cost of Quitting Smoking Isn’t Cheap
Hopefully, the health risks associated with smoking — including lung cancer, nicotine addiction, heart attack, stroke, emphysema, COPD and pancreatic cancer, to name a few — are enough to never pick up the habit. Those who choose to smoke, however, often find that quitting can be costly.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is not cheap — but it’s generally cheaper than smoking and only intended for temporary use. The average daily cost is $5.81 for nicotine gum, $4.98 for nicotine lozenges and $3.91 for nicotine patches.
E-cigarettes, which some believe are a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, can be quite pricey, as well. The cheapest way to buy e-cigarettes, which is to purchase a large, 50-ml bottle to fill your own cartridge and device, will still cost a pack-a-day smoker $1.19 per day.
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There are many different methods for quitting smoking — you can even do it cold turkey — but it takes most people a couple of tries to kick the habit for good. So, if you’ve already made lighting up a habit, don’t give up. Resolve to quit for good to save up to $7,449 each year.