It’s October 2013, and that means it has been FOURTEEN years since my last cigarette. For those unaware, I used to be an extremely heavy smoker and every year on October 21st (today!) I celebrate another year of remaining smoke-free. And while I’m at it, I use this opportunity to check how much money I would have spent had I kept smoking. I used to do this on my blog, but since 2011 I’ve been doing it here at Tumblr.
And now, math!
As I have now lived in three different states (NY, CA and since 2010, MD), this has gotten a bit more complicated. I used to smoke on average 1.75 packs a day (most days were 1.5, many were 2, and nights when I went drinking – which was often – I’d hit 2.5). All told, had I not quit, I would have sucked down 8,949 packs, or 178,990 individual cigarettes.
When I quit in 1999, I lived in New York City, where I was for eight of these twelve years. Because of all of the moves, I’ve locked off my NYC smoking costs at $35,757.75, using the $7 a pack average in New York during that time. I’ve also locked off the subsequent two years in California at $5,740.88, using what was then a $4.50 a pack average. The lousy economy has meant cigarette prices have skyrocketed, as states need income from wherever they can find it. New York is now a whopping $11.90 on average (wow!) and California is $5.19 (they’re getting there).
The last three years have been here in Maryland, where the average is $7.93 (up 21% from last year!). That’s three years with no leap days, plus 2012’s leap year, making for 51,135 individual cigarettes/2557 packs for a total of $20,275.
That means that had I not quit smoking, since 1999, I would have spent…
That’s almost SIXTY TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS! And that’s assuming the old prices in New York and California. It would be significantly higher using today’s prices.
If you’re thinking of quitting, bot SmokeFree.gov or QuitNet are good places to start. Also try reading up on the subject: Wikipedia’s Health Effects of Tobacco Smoking is good, as is the extremely unpleasant How Does Your Body Digest a Cigarette? over at HowStuffWorks.
And if you want to check out some scary math of your own, here’s a recent rundown of average price per pack of cigarettes by state.
Most importantly though, if you smoke, you should stop. It’s bad for you, it’s bad for those around you, and it costs a TON of money.