Quit smoking and look at what you could buy instead

IF you smoke, have you ever considered what it could pay for instead? What about a trip to a theme park with the kids, some designer clothes or even a family holiday?

Fresh has been adding up the costs – and it is scary how they mount up – with up to £2,500 a year going up in smoke. It comes as research with smokers suggests that behind health, cost is the main reason why many smokers would try to quit.

Prices using a supermarket comparison website show how the cost of smoking stacks up day by day and week by week, even for someone buying in a bulk pack of 5 x 20 priced at £49.52[i]:

  • Someone smoking 10 a day can expect to pay up to £1807 a year, £150 a month and £34.75 a week. For a couple that means up to £3,614 a year, £300 a month and around £69.50 a week.
  • Someone smoking 14 a day can expect to pay up to £2,575 a year, £214 a month and around £49 a week. For a couple smoking that means £5,150 a year, £428 a month and £99 a week.

Look at what someone smoking 10 a day could save by quitting:

  • If you like the movies, one week’s savings of around £34.00 could help you treat the whole family to a cinema trip
  • It’ll soon be back to school, and three weeks savings of around £100 could pay for the cost of a school uniform for a reception-aged child – including polo shirt; trousers; jumper; black shoes; and bag [Source: George ASDA]
  • How about two extra grocery shops for the family every month with the £150 you’ll save from quitting?
  • If you’re a football fan, £450 saved in around three months could pay for a Sunderland Football Club Family Zone season ticket for one adult, an under 16 and an under 18 [Source: Sunderland AFC]. Alternatively, in less than four months you can save enough to buy a Newcastle United season ticket for one adult and one under 18  in the family area [Source: Newcastle United].
  • Experience the magic - two month’s savings of around £300 could pay for four tickets to see the Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London with change for a meal
  • If you fancy a couple of new outfits, three months savings of £450 could pay for a shopping spree with lunch out.
  • £1807 saved in a year could pay for a week’s holiday for up to six people in a caravan at Flamingo Land [Source: Flamingo Land]. *Dependent on date.*
  • In two years you could have saved £3614 towards a deposit for a car

And for couples the savings are even greater:

  • A couple smoking 10 a day can save around £18,000 in five years – that could buy a new kitchen and bathroom and decorate the house, or pay for a much needed deposit on a house.
  • If you’ve dreamed of taking the kids to Lapland to visit Santa Claus, five months savings of £1500 between now and December could pay for a trip from Newcastle Airport to “Santa's Secret Grotto Day Trip” to meet Father Christmas and his Elves getting ready for Christmas in their underground grotto.

To get started quitting smoking, or to find out how much you might be saving with the Smokefree Cost Calculator, visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/cost-calculator

Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh, said: “We know from talking to smokers that spending around £5 a day on cigarettes is money missed but it is factored in. But it is only when you add things up that you realise what it could have paid for instead.

“Quitting smoking can feel like an instant pay rise and create a bit of financial peace of mind, but also means you can enjoy a few luxuries for you and the family.

“We’re encouraging people to think about the nicer things they can be buying – whether that is towards the weekly shops, or taking the kids out on day trips, a holiday, a new outfit, or a splurge on some new clothes.”

She added: “Many people are struggling financially but we have to remember smoking is an addiction that usually starts in childhood and most people who smoke would like to be able to quit.”

Switching to a less harmful form of nicotine delivery like an e-cigarette can also bring big savings compared to cigarettes. Its estimated that by completely switching from smoking to vaping can mean you spending around a quarter of you might have spent on smoking. 

Local stop smoking services can also boost the odds of success with all services in the North East welcoming people using electronic cigarettes to stop.

The Money Advice Service recommends setting a savings goal to help you stay motivated – so rather than smoking, think of that something you’d want to use that money for instead whether a holiday, a car, towards a deposit on a home or even to build up an emergency savings pot. Then each time you think about buying a pack of smokes, you can visualise what you’re giving up instead.

As well as causing cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and stroke, evidence shows that smoking is affects people’s appearance, undermining anyone’s fitness and beauty regime:

  • Smoking makes it harder to get fit, even if you are young, and restricts muscle growth.}
  • Smoking makes your skin more likely to wrinkle at a younger age. Tobacco smoke dries the skin and deprives it of nutrients.
  • Smoking can make hair more brittle.
  • Smoking can make people more prone to acne and delay the healing of blemishes.

The role of taxation

Raising the price of tobacco through taxation is seen widely as the most effective measure worldwide to reduce smoking, encouraging smokers to stop smoking and dissuading non-smokers and children from starting.  High tobacco tax is recommended by the World Bank as a good health and economic policy.

A report by the World Bank in February 2019 hailed the UK as an example of a country which has raised taxes on tobacco and reduced smoking while also bringing the illicit tobacco trade under control. http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/world-bank-cites-uk-as-example-of-how-tobacco-taxes-can-be-used-to-increase-government-revenues-and-improve-public-health/

Top 10 tips for quitting smoking this summer

1.    Everyone is different – some successful quit attempts are planned, but loads of people manage to quit without planning

2.    Work out when you’re most likely to smoke and change your routine to avoid those situations for a while.

3.    Make a list of reasons in your head – e.g. health, family, money. 

4.    Think about quitting smoking as a pay rise.

5.    Get the best support – there’s loads of help, advice and support available from your local Stop Smoking Service.

6.    Ask your family and friends to support you – and not to try to tempt you to smoke

7.    Consider an electronic cigarette to help stay free of tobacco. E-cigs are the most popular quitting aid in the UK and are estimated to be around 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

8.    Try some of the free tools to keep you going from the national Smokefree website – choose from the quitting app http://www.nhs.uk/smokefree

9.    It is usually better to stop abruptly than cut down to quit. 

10.  Don’t feel disheartened if you fail – come back more determined


[i] Looking at a brand of low price cigs bought in bulk with prices listed on My Supermarket in June 2018. A sleeve of 100 cigarettes (5 x 20) was listed for £46.47. Calculations have been made to work out consumption based on 10 or 14 cigarettes a day, as well as daily, weekly and annual costs.

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