Smoker? – What is the real cost?
Imagine the scene in an alternate reality; an anxious entrepreneur climbs the stairs in Dragons Den and nervously approaches the investors sitting in front of him, he explains his product to them.
It’s a herbal formula that, when lit, will poison the user with hundreds of toxic chemicals, it will taste revolting, make their clothes smell, turn both their teeth & fingers yellow, make them short of breath, and give them a foul temper they never even knew they had!
The Dragons already look puzzled. Go on, they say.
It can lead to lung cancer, heart disease, pleurisy, emphysema, strokes, macular degeneration, impotency & it can also contribute to Alzheimer’s and infertility.
The business opportunity, the entrepreneur tells them, is that these disgusting things are addictive and once a person starts to use them, they find it very difficult, in fact, almost impossible to stop.
Thankfully sanity prevails and the Dragons declare themselves out, the new creation called the ‘cigarette’ never makes it on to the market and the world is a fitter, happier and healthier place.
In reality (where, it must be stated, Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne is a tireless anti-tobacco campaigner), people know of the risks of smoking and whilst there appears to be a slow decline in new smokers, the amount of existing nicotine addicts is still huge.
It would be reassuring to think that if cigarettes were invented now, they would never make it to market; the recent seventh anniversary of the smoking ban in pubs and restaurants has made life far more pleasurable for non smokers enjoying a drink or a meal.
How much could a smoker have saved in that time however? The one calculation that every nicotine addict fears is totalling the opportunity cost of their addiction, which in recent years has become an extremely expensive habit.
According to The Guardian, the average price of a packet of cigarettes is £7.46 and supposing that the average smoker lights up twenty times a day, the annual cost will be £2,723, however, a heavy smoker on 30 a day will be burning at least £4084 each year.
Not only are most heavy smokers making sure that they won’t make it to retirement, the £2 – 4,000 a year that they are paying out to tobacco companies could have made that retirement very enjoyable.
Let’s say that on cash invested, a mere 2 percent interest is available; two decades of smoking 30 a day at today’s prices will deny a smoker of a potential £100,230.92.
If a smoker has 20 years of working life left (which is always a big if) the advantage of giving up today could be a lump sum great enough to pay off an existing mortgage or buy a second holiday home.
The figures quoted above would be enough to pay for a high class Jaguar XKRS, a car almost exclusively driven by people having some fun with their savings, or it would fund as many luxury holidays as you can imagine.
Of course none of us can put a price on wellbeing, this is something that is unquestionably important and it is always the best reason to stop smoking.
Insurers will always try to place financial value on good health and non smokers will attract lower health insurance and life insurance costs compared to their breathless equivalents.
Finally, if you are an employer, it’s worth thinking about encouraging your staff to quit smoking, as recent studies show that the addiction costs the economy billions in lost productivity every year.