How Much Does Smoking Cost You?

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As of Dec. 20, 2019, the legal age limit is 21 years old for purchasing cigarettes, cigars, or any other tobacco products in the U.S.

If you are a smoker, you are undoubtedly aware of the cost of cigarettes as it pertains to your health—such as that smoking can lead to heart disease, lung cancer, and other smoking-related illnesses. But there is a financial cost of smoking too.

Plunking down a few dollars for a single pack of cigarettes may seem harmless to your wallet. Yet the cost of maintaining this habit long-term is anything but.

How Much Do Cigarettes Cost?

According to the National Cancer Institute, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $6.28, which means a pack-a-day habit sets you back roughly $188 per month or $2,292 per year. Ten years of smoking comes with a $22,920 price tag.

Depending on where you live, you could be paying much more due to higher state and local taxes. For example, the minimum retail price for a pack of cigarettes in New York ranges from $10.75 to $13.92 and varies based on brand.

In this case, the cost of smoking a pack a day will cost you anywhere from $39,238 to $50,808 over the course of 10 years. Buy a pack of cigarettes in New York City and the cost is even higher, ranging from $12.41 to $15.59 per pack, depending on the brand.

You can calculate the cost of your smoking at SmokeFree.gov. This calculator will tell you what you spend in a week, month, and year, as well as over 10-year and 20-year periods. You may be shocked to find out what your cigarette purchases add up to over an extended amount of time.

Cost of Cigarettes vs. E-Cigarettes

While electronic cigarettes are touted as being less expensive than traditional cigarettes, this isn't always the case. According to a study published in 2020, the average cost of disposable nicotine vaping products and prefilled cartridges were both higher than the equivalent number of cigarettes.

One e-cigarette cartridge the equivalent of one pack of 20 cigarettes or 150 puffs.

The start-up costs were higher as well, sometimes five times the amount as with traditional cigarettes. The average price for an e-liquid rechargeable device in the U.S. was $44.81 and the average for a rechargeable device for cartridges was $34.16.

If you vape, it is worth taking a look at what your monthly, yearly, and long-term expenses amount to. Consider both start-up costs and recurring costs associated with buying replacement cartridges.

Other Costs of Smoking

There are other costs of smoking that extend beyond the cost of cigarettes or e-cigarettes. Here are a few to consider.

Increased Healthcare Costs

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can add a 50% premium surcharge based on smoking status. This surcharge is not adjusted for people in lower-income brackets.

With employer-provided health insurance, smokers can expect to pay roughly $20 to $50 more per month toward their premiums than nonsmokers. There are also increased healthcare costs for people seeking care for a major health condition.

One study found that the average monthly healthcare costs for non-smokers with cancer were $244 less than for those with cancer who smoked. Thus, researchers concluded that "smoking status has a significant impact on healthcare costs among patients with cancer."

Increased dental expenses add to the healthcare-related costs of smoking. People who smoke pay 8.8% more over the course of their lifetime for periodontal therapy, while those needing one or two extra maintenance visits pay an extra 40.1% and 71.4% over their lifetimes, respectively.

You also don't have to be the one who smokes to be impacted by the cost of smoking. Exposure to secondhand smoke is positively associated with emergency room visits for children. Unless your insurance pays 100% of these costs, this equates to more out-of-pocket expenses.

Higher Insurance Rates

Smokers have to navigate higher premiums for life insurance as well. People who smoke can pay triple the rate for life insurance as people who don't smoke. These higher rates don't just apply to cigarettes either.

Life insurance rates are often increased for people who smoke cigars, those who chew tobacco, marijuana smokers, and e-cigarette users. It's also not uncommon for insurance providers to test for cotinine, a substance found in nicotine gum and patches.

To qualify for non-smoker life insurance rates, most insurers require that individuals abstain from tobacco products for at least a year. And if the provider finds out that someone hasn't been honest about tobacco use, any claim made against the policy will likely be denied—meaning that loved ones won't receive a benefit.

People who smoke can also expect to pay more for homeowner's insurance. Several companies offer a non-smoker discount, which can reduce base premiums by roughly 2%.

Missed Opportunities to Earn and Invest

While smoking is a powerful habit, consider what you are sacrificing it for. Could the money you allocate to cigarettes be put to better use by saving it, funding college for your kids, contributing to retirement, or even spending it on a needed purchase or vacation?​​​​

Consider the average annual cost of a pack-a-day habit. If you chose to invest the $2,292 each year over 20 years instead of smoking it, you would accumulate over $100,000 (before inflation) based on an annual market return of 7%. That number is around $170,000 if you’re paying New York prices for your cigarettes.

Each time you make a cigarette purchase, you are deciding between funding your future or funding a habit that harms it.

When considering the true cost of smoking, you must also take into account the costs associated with lost productivity at work and smoking-related sick days. Consider both and the financial impact of this habit begins to amass greatly.

Some research even suggests that there is a wage gap between smokers and non-smokers, with non-smokers earning around 17% more than people who smoke. Smoking just one cigarette per day is enough to cause this gap.

Other ancillary costs of smoking include those related to increased cleaning costs of your home, cars, and clothing, as well as lower property resale value.

Costs of Co-Occurring Habits

Nicotine and alcohol use often go hand in hand. One reason is because drinking can inhibit your ability to make positive health decisions. Another is that, for many, drinking occurs at social events and if others are smoking there too, it can make it harder to resist this habit.

Maintaining both habits can add to the cost of smoking even more. Consume one drink per day, three days a week, and you'll spend around $468 per year for alcoholic beverages that cost $3. This cost is higher if you drink more or if your drinks are more expensive. Add this to the cost of cigarettes and your wallet will feel it.

A Word From Verywell

The costs of little things add up. In the case of smoking, the costs not only add up, but they also bring additional expenses and other negative consequences. Again, the grip of smoking is tough to break, but you have a lot to gain—both financially and otherwise—by kicking the habit.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the cost of smoking per year?

    If you smoke a pack of cigarettes per day, you will spend around $2,292 per year on cigarettes alone. However, the cost of smoking includes more than just this price. It also includes higher healthcare costs, increased insurance premiums, missed investment and earning opportunities, and more.

  • What is the social cost of smoking?

    The social cost of smoking (over a lifetime) is estimated to be around $106,000 for women and $220,000 for men. This includes costs associated directly with smoking as well as secondhand smoke, in addition to costs related to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

  • What is the opportunity cost of smoking?

    The answer varies depending on where you live. According to calculations completed by WalletHub, the financial opportunity cost for a smoker living in Georgia is $1,013,579, for instance, while the opportunity cost for a smoker in California is $1,631,258.

17 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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