Happy 2011! This marks TWELVE years since I quit smoking. For those of you who are unaware, I used to be an extremely heavy smoker and so every year I celebrate on October 21st another year being smoke-free. Aside from the general awesomeness of another 365 (or possibly 366) days going by without a cigarette, I use this as an opportunity to figure out how much money I would have spent if I had kept smoking all this time. I did this for years on my old blog, but this marks my first post here at Tumblr.
Anyway, on to the math.
I moved across the country a couple of times in the past few years, so things have gotten significantly more complex. So much so that I now use a spreadsheet to calculate it all. 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 7,665 packs, or 153,300 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 two years have been here in Maryland, where the average is $6.70. That’s two years with no leap days (yet - 2012 is coming!), or 25,550 individual cigarettes/1,277.5 packs for a total of $8559.25.
That means that had I not quit smoking, since 1999, I would have spent…
FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS, people! FIFTY THOUSAND! And that’s assuming the old prices in New York and California. It would be much higher had I started smoking today.
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.
The bottom line of course, is that if I can do it, anyone can. It’s bad for you, it’s bad for those around you, and it’s a ton of money.