The True Financial Cost Of Smoking

It’s no secret that smoking is an expensive habit, but most people probably don’t realize that the cost goes far beyond the price of cigarettes. Smoking impacts everything from your health to your home. The true cost of tobacco use goes further than you may realize.



Image via Flickr by Fried Dough

In the United States, the average price for a pack of Marlboro Reds is $6.99. For a smoker who goes through a pack a day, this comes out to over $2,500 a year. If you’re in Kentucky, where cigarettes are on the low end of the scale, you’ll still pay more than $1,800 a year for daily packs ringing up at $4.96. In New York, where a pack of cigarettes can cost as much as $14.50, smokers can easily spend nearly $5,300 on this habit.

If you gave up your habit, you could have an extra $10,000 in the bank in just four years. That cash will easily land you a reliable car that’s less than five years old, all paid for in cash.

Lost Workplace Productivity

Smoking related illnesses cause a high rate of absenteeism. Premature death among smokers reduces productive work time as well. On average, smokers die ten years earlier than non-smokers. According to a Penn State report, the average productivity loss per smoker due to premature death is $2,567.58. An additional $1,479.32 is lost to absenteeism each year. Altogether, this is a loss of $4,046.90 per smoker, or over $184 billion in total for the United States.

Unfortunately, smokers themselves are not the only ones to suffer. Secondhand smoke can cause a significant amount of damage as well. In the United States, an estimated 42,000 deaths every year occur as a result of secondhand smoke exposure. Exposure to secondhand smoke costs the US $5.6 billion a year in lost workplace productivity.

While you may not see this money disappear from your own personal finances, those extra sick days can have a big impact on your salary over time. Smokers are 33% more likely to miss work than non-smokers and 19% more likely to miss work than ex-smokers. This fact won’t go unnoticed when it comes time to single out employees for promotion.

Medical Care

Smoking causes many serious illnesses, from lung cancer to heart disease. The average smoker will incur $2,547.38 in adult health care expenses each year as a result of smoking. This includes $1,292.82 for hospital care, $413.27 for ambulatory care, $410.99 for prescription medications, and $225.46 for nursing care.

That $2,500 is nearly identical to the cost of cigarettes over the course of the year, so you’re doubling the cost of every pack with your increased health care costs. With that extra $2,500, you could buy a top-of-the-line 65″ flat screen TV, a MacBook Pro with all the bells and whistles, or a five-day vacation to Disney World for a family of four.

Depreciation in Home Value


Image via Flickr by 401(K) 2013

Everything you own loses value when it’s exposed to cigarette smoke. A Tobacco Free Florida report revealed that a whopping 76% of homebuyers would not buy a home that smelled like smoke. You can try painting and having the carpets and draperies professionally cleaned, but none of these processes are guaranteed to work. Even if they do, you’ll have invested a significant amount in preparing your home for re-sale. The same report put a $3,000 price tag on these improvements.

That extra $3,000 could have been a new living room or bedroom set, or a quick kitchen makeover in your new home.

Depreciation in Car Value

Smokers’ cars depreciate $200 more than those of non-smokers each year. If you hold onto your car for just 5 years, that’s $1,000 lost. Burns and stains are nearly impossible to get rid of, and most buyers can detect the lingering smell of cigarette smoke in the interior, even when you try to cover it up.

Instead of ruining your car to the tune of $200 a year, you could spend that same amount of money on a car stereo, alarm system, or other upgrades.

Increased Cost of Insurance

Many people are surprised to find increased rates for smokers when shopping for life or health insurance. “Sometimes the rates can be up to twice the cost depending on the individuals age. Usually an individual shopping for coverage would have to quit smoking for 12-24 months in order to get non tobacco rates” says Brian Greenberg Founder of True Blue Life Insurance. The top life insurance companies have different classifications for smokers and non smokers.

Teeth Whitening

The tar in cigarettes will stain your teeth, giving them a brown or yellowish tint. If you’re looking for pearly whites, you’ll probably spend a great deal of money trying to get them. Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits cost $20 or more. A professional whitening at your dentist’s office can run you up to $1,000. If you compromise with a professional kit from your dentist that you use at home, expect to pay about $300. If you have your teeth whitened every 6 months to counteract the signs of smoking, you’re looking at anywhere from $40 to $2,000.

Instead of sinking this cash into keeping your teeth white, you could have used it to give your wardrobe a fresh new overhaul. That extra cash might spell a coveted pair of designer shoes or the new handbag you’ve always wanted.

The Grand Total

Even without any extras like cosmetic treatments or new car and home investments, you’re looking at more than $5,000 a year in the way of cigarettes and health care costs. If you invest that $5,000 instead, you could reap more than $50,000 in just 10 years. If you’d invested that amount in Dell and waited 20 years, it would have turned into $800,000.

If you’re looking for a safer investment, you can put your $5,000 in a CD and yield a small amount of guaranteed interest. Even if you spend the cash right away, that $5,000 can buy a lot more fun than a year’s worth of smoke breaks. If you’re trying to quit but struggling on this journey, think about the cost of cigarettes over the remainder of your life and consider investing this money in a healthy smoking cessation program instead.

Smoking carries monumental costs to both the smoker and the country as a whole. From lost productivity at work to mounting health care costs, the bottom line is that it is always better for both your wallet and your health to kick the habit and quit.

Jon Fritz

Jon Fritz is a licensed life insurance agent at Please see our complete guide to life insurance rates and learn how to choose the best life insurance policy.

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