It’s not likely you’ll be able to find anyone in the United States who has escaped the message that smoking is hazardous to your health. After all, there’s a Surgeon General’s warning on every pack. And children learn about the negative effects of tobacco use in school.
Unfortunately, we pay far less attention to how smoking cigarettes affects our personal finance health. So let’s rectify that now by explaining why smoking is such a terrible financial habit:
Cigarettes Aren’t Cheap
Buying cigarettes is a very pricey habit. Cigarettes prices vary around the country, from almost $13 in New York to just over $5 in Virginia. Plus, of course, the number of cigarettes one smokes varies. But let’s say you’re a pack-a-day smoker who spends $5 per pack. That adds up to $1825 per year.
If you spend in the mid-range of New York and Virginia prices — currently about $9 per pack — you would spend much more than that: $3103. Over the course of 10 years, you’d have saved anywhere from $18,250 to $31,300 by not smoking. That’s a down payment on a house or part of your child’s college tuition.
It gets even steeper if you add up a lifetime’s worth of expenditures. Let’s say you began smoking at 20 and ended at 60 probably from a cigarette-related death, because smoking also reduces your life expectancy. That’s 40 years of smoking. At $8.50 per pack, that’s $125,200.
Smokers Have Higher Healthcare Expenses
But the direct cost of cigarettes is only part of the fiscal drain of cigarettes. Your doctors and hospitals may be treating you for cancer, heart disease, emphysema and more from a fairly young age.
When you’re sick and undergoing treatment, you can’t work as much, or you may not be able to work at all. So there are costs associated with lost productivity.
Together, smoking-related US healthcare costs add up to $133 billion every year.
Smoking can result in higher healthcare costs in several different ways. For example:
- Higher insurance premiums, compared to non-smokers.
- Higher deductibles and copays for medical treatment related to smoking.
- Higher illness rates than nonsmokers.
- Increased risk of life-long care as a result of chronic smoking-related illnesses, such as emphysema.
- Longer surgery-recovery times, resulting in longer hospital stays.
Smoking Increases Your Dental Bills
When people discuss the fiscal and health impacts of smoking, they seldom mention dental health. However, 16% of smokers have poor dental health, ranging from increased cavities and root canals to yellow teeth. Cavities, root canals and tooth whitening all cost a pretty penny. Never mind that smokers also suffer from increased risk of oral cancer, and its resultant costs.
Cigarette Smoke Can Reduce Your Home’s Value
Linking smoking to your home’s financial worth may have you scratching your head. But think about it: If you or someone in your household uses cigarettes, the house and furniture likely smell of smoke. Smokers may not notice the smell — but non-smokers do.
A house smelling strongly of smoke can turn prospective buyers off, which can delay the sale of your house. And houses that sit on the market too long only see their value go in one direction: downhill.
Your house may also be damaged by smoking, evidenced by discolored windows and mirrors, burned carpet, and stained countertops. And if your furniture holds odors, it may be impossible to sell secondhand.
Smokers May Have Higher Clothing Expenses
Smoke odors get into clothes too, resulting in more frequent trips to the dry cleaner, or doing the laundry more often. Embers and ash from cigarettes can also damage clothes, thereby increasing clothing expenses.
In Conclusion …
The lesson is simple: The cost of smoking goes far beyond the price of a cigarette pack. It also leads to higher healthcare costs, reduces income via increased sick days and decreased productivity, and can even erode the value of your home.
In other words, choosing to smoke cigarettes is one of the worst financial decisions you can ever make.
Photo Credit: Alex