We all know that smoking is an expensive habit, costly to both your health and your hard-earned savings. At $10+ per package of cigarettes in Canada (or at least British Columbia), smoking can be a very expensive, yet extremely difficult habit to kick. In British Columbia, 15% of the population smokes despite it being the lowest percentage of people in Canada.
The benefits of smoking cessation are numerous. Fewer wrinkles, no yellow stain on your teeth or fingers, and no smoker’s cough. In addition to the more cosmetic reasons to quit smoking, there are important physiological changes that happen after you quit smoking too.
According to the Canadian Lung Association, after two weeks to three months of quitting smoking, your lung function improves by 30%. After one year, your chances of having a heart attack due to smoking is cut in half. After 10 years, your chances of having lung cancer due to smoking is also cut in half.
Smoking is Expensive
Smoking is indeed a very expensive habit. It’s even worse than the latte factor.
For example, if you smoke a pack per day, and each pack of cigarettes is $10, you’ll be spending:
- $70 on a weekly basis
- $300 on a monthly basis
- $3650 on an annual basis
- in five years, this will cost you a total of $18,250.
This does not even include the opportunity cost wasted if you invested your money instead in a high interest savings account and accounted for compound interest.
Strategies to Quit
Realizing just how much money is being spent on a habit that the tobacco companies are profiting from is an important first step to quit. Thinking about how you would rather spend that money is important too, in order to reward yourself for quitting.
Here are some other strategies to quit
- Write the pros and cons to quitting down – This will help you bring to consciousness what has been in the subconscious.
- Set a quit date (and write it down)- Writing it down is the first step to behavior and lifestyle change.
- Enlist in friends to help you quit – Having social support to help you quit is important.
- Join a group – This helps keep accountability by stimulating friendly competition.
- Get external support– It is very difficult to quit and having support to help you quit can make your smoking cessation plan much more successful.
- Trick your brain– Your brain is hardwired to crave the nicotine. Start to trick it by holding the cigarette in your other hand or by not smoking at your usual times (e.g. after meals).
- Learn other coping strategies– Most people smoke because it’s their coping mechanism. Learn to cope with other strategies, like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or physical activity so that the cravings don’t get to you. You can lower your chance of relapse this way.
Some provinces are progressive enough to fund smoking cessation aides for smokers interested in quitting. This means that smoking cessation aides like nicotine replacement patches or gum are provided fully covered by the government. Or that expensive medications (Champix and Zyban) that help you quit smoking are covered as a regular provincial benefit. This means that if you live in these provinces, you have no excuse. Since there are heavy taxes on tobacco, I think it is about time that the government acts to discourage smoking.
- British Columbia Smoking Cessation Program – All you need to do is call 811 and register. They will even mail you your nicotine replacement patches straight to your door, or you could have it picked up at your local pharmacy. Registering for this program also allows you to take Champix or Zyban (both work to help you cut the cravings). Zyban is actually Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, and they found out that test subjects had a side effect of being deterred by smoking, so they marketed it as Zyban.
- Ontario Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program – A trained pharmacist can help counsel you to quit smoking. In addition, Zyban and Champix began coverage under the provincial program in 2011. These two medications more than double your chances of quitting.
- Quebec – This forward province has covered the cost of Zyban and Champix since year 2000.
- Saskatchewan– These medications are covered by the government as well in this province to help people quit smoking.
Of course like all medications, these medications, as amazing as they may sound, have side effects. Talking to your health care provider is a great next step (after setting the quit date) to your quit smoking journey to save money (and your health).
If you would rather go the non-pharmacological route, each province has a smoking cessation hotline equipped with counselors and other individuals invested in helping you quit smoking.
Either way, hopefully in five years time you’ll have $18,250 in the back instead of filling up as dark soot in your lungs.
About the Author: Clare is a 20-something who lives in beautiful (but expensive) British Columbia and has been working on her frugal living skills and fighting lifestyle inflation. She works to expand her DIY investment knowledge and hopes to enjoy financial independence one day. She enjoys reading personal finance books, freelance writing, but not so much arithmetic.