You know that smoking is bad for your health. But what you may not know is just how much it costs to keep a smoking habit going. Paying for packs of cigarettes on a daily and weekly basis adds up to significant sums of money over months and years.
But the cost of buying cigarettes is just the tip of the iceberg, when you consider the total cost of smoking. If you’re a smoker, you’ll end up spending more than nonsmokers in many areas, from dental care to homeowner's insurance. And don't forget to factor in the biggest cost of all: lost years of life. When you total the damage, the numbers may surprise you.
An average pack of 20 cigarettes costs around $6 or even more in areas that levy a local tax on top of state cigarette taxes. If you’re a pack-a-day smoker, the weekly cost of $42 may seem manageable. But when you consider the long term, the financial sacrifice that you make becomes clearer. One month of smoking a pack a day can cost an average of $168, which balloons to $2,016 over the course of a year.
For the amount that you pay for 10 years of smoking—more than $20,000—you could buy a new car!
You pay more for health-related services. Because you put yourself at higher risk for developing medical problems than nonsmokers, you probably pay higher health insurance premiums. You also likely have more medical problems than nonsmokers, which means you’ll pay more for frequent doctor's visits and expensive prescription drugs.
Have you been to the dentist lately? If you seek proper dental care, you might spend more on dental care and dental products than the average nonsmoker might, because smoking stains and damages gums and teeth.
Smoking puts you at a higher risk of burning down your house than nonsmokers. If you’re a homeowner, you probably pay more on your home insurance premiums. In fact, many home insurance policies give nonsmokers a discount.
Additional hits to the homeowner's wallet may come in the form of decreased home value, since the smell of cigarettes can leach into the walls and may make a property less desirable to potential buyers. When trying to sell or rent your house, you’ll rack up more cleaning costs. Possessions you keep in your house may even lose value due to smoke damage.
A study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health showed that smokers have a greater chance of getting into a car accident than nonsmokers. Therefore—you guessed it—smokers must pay higher premiums for car insurance (Brison, 1990). Another potential cost is in car resale value. The smell of smoke left behind from smoking in your car—even with the windows rolled down—can decrease your car's trade-in value.
Life Expectancy Costs
There is no resource more valuable than the days of your life. Researchers have estimated that habitual smokers significantly decrease their life expectancy. A 2013 study by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that survival was shortened by 12 years for men and about 11 years for women (Jha et al., 2013).
Separate studies have devised calculations to translate these lost years into a dollar amount. For example, a study published in the Journal of Health Economics estimates the mortality cost as high as $222 per pack (Viscusi & Hersch, 2008).
Now that you know the true cost of smoking, can you really afford it?