CFI Blog

What is That Pack of Cigarettes Really Costing You?

“A cigar has…a fire at one end and a fool at the other.”
–Horace Greely

“A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”
–James I of England

It’s not a mystery that I am no fan of smoking. It killed both of my grandfathers. They managed to survive World War II, but couldn’t dodge the Marlboro Man.

Why, then, does a financial planner harp on smoking?

Your goal in life should be to maximize the happiness of each dollar that you spend.

If you’re a smoker, you know the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

At least, you think you know the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

The problem is that the retail price you pay where you buy your smokes is just the beginning of the price you pay.

Let’s explore a little deeper and find out just how much more those lung darts cost you.

The cost of cigarettes that the price tag doesn’t tell you

cost of cigarettes that the price tag doesn’t tell you

The average pack of coffin darts costs $6.96 in the United States.

The average smoker smokes 2/3 of a pack of cigarettes per day, meaning that he spends $4.67 per day on the habit.

Over a year, that’s $1,703.11.

But, as I said, that’s just the beginning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are 43.8 million smokers in the United States. It’s no mystery that smoking causes both illness and lost time at work. If you add up lost productivity because a smoker had to stay at home hacking up a lung and the actual monetary cost of treating the diseases and sicknesses caused by smoking, smoking costs $193.8 billion per year. That’s $4,424.66 per smoker per year.

So, the average cost of smoking per smoker per year is $6,127.77. Given that the average smoker smokes 244.55 packs per year, that comes to $25.06 per pack, or $16.79 per day.

That’s a little more than the $6.96 price tag you see at the store.

But, wait! There’s more!

The average smoker starts smoking at 20.1 years old. The average smoker dies between 13.2 and 14.5 years earlier than the non-smoker, depending on sex, meaning that the average smoker is dying at 64.85 years old.

That’s 44 ¾ years of acting as a walking bellows.

It’s also $198,003.54 per smoker flushed down the drain.

$200k for a habit that will likely kill you, make you smell nasty, and generally lower your enjoyment of life.

If you’re a smoker, you’re paying $200k for the privilege of torturing your body and making yourself feel miserable.

Can you think of other uses of $200,000?

I can.

What about you? What would you spend $200,000 on? Joe Camel or something else? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

Author Profile

John Davis
John Davis is a nationally recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books about his expertise in the field and has been featured extensively in numerous media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News, CNBC, Fox Business, and many more. With over 20 years of experience helping consumers understand their credit and identity protection rights, John is passionate about empowering people to take control of their finances. He works with financial institutions to develop consumer-friendly policies that promote financial literacy and responsible borrowing habits.

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