San José State University
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
& Tornado Alley

The Horrendous Financial
Cost of a Nicotine Addiction

Someone I know started smoking cigarets when he was about 15 and continued until he was about 60, when he had to stop because of the serious deterioration of his lungs. He was forced to use a motorized scooter to get around. For the last many year was smoking three packs per day.

Not only was smoking a disaster for his health it was also a financial disaster. At three packs per day and $5 per pack he was spending almost $5500 per year on cigarets. At that price over a 45 year smoking lifetime he would have laid out $246,544 for cigarets, almost a quarter of a million dollars, the price now of a good house.

But it is even worse if one takes into account the interest that might have been earned on that money. If the money saved earned 3% then at the end the 45 year period the accumulated sum would be $507,989; the price of a very good house.

Typical smokers claim they only smoke a pack a day. That still would amount to $169,330; the price of a moderate house. Even those who claim they only smoke a half of a pack per day would be totaling up a cost of $84,665; the price of a house in many areas.

So the cost of a nicotine addiction even for those who quit at age 60 is equal to the price of a house.Those who adamantly avoid acquiring a nicotine addition as a teenager would at age 60 have a house paid off. Those who foolishly acquire a nicotine addiction have at age 60 impaired lung efficiency and no free and clear home ownership. They may have house but more than likely they would still owe on a mortgage that could have been paid off if they had not foolishly acquired a nicotine addition in their youth. And this does not include the cost of medical care for the damages smoking does to one's health. That could be the price of another house.

Of course 45 years ago cigarets cost a lot less than they do today, but houses then also cost a lot less. The important thing is not the dollar value of the cost of a serious nicotine addiction but its comparability to the price of a house.

Another aspect of the problem is that people go to major effort to acquire a nicotine addiction. Typically smoking makes people sick when they first start. They continue because they think people enjoy smoking. What they find but hardly ever acknowledge is that the only enjoyment smokers get is the alleviation of the discomforts of the withdrawal symptoms from the addiction. In other words the enjoyment they perceive is acheiving temporarily the state they had all of the time before they acquired the addiction.

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