The Cost of Smoking

What is the cost of vaping?
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We know what a pack of smokes costs us, and we have a vague idea that it adds up over time, but we rarely stop to think about how much money we will spend on cigarettes in a year, 5 years, 15 years, or during our entire lifetimes. The answers may surprise you.

Quick facts:

  • 393,000 Americans die of smoking-related diseases every year
  • In certain states, you can spend as much as $5,000 on cigarettes every year
  • Over your lifetime, smoking can cost you over $2 million
  • Smoking is responsible for over $96 billion in healthcare expenditures in the United States
  • In a year, an average smoker earns $3,306 less than a non-smoker
  • Over 15 years, a smoker will lose more than $105,000

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Your Wallet

The cost of smoking cigarettes varies greatly depending on the state and the number of packs smoked, which varies depending on the smoker, so let’s consider a couple of possibilities.

cost of smokingAccording to LUNG.ORG the average price of a pack of cigarettes in the United States is approximately $5.5, which is still much less than even the best vapes that usually cost more than 20$ for a basic starter kit. Now this may not seem like that much, until you consider how many of those you buy in a year. Each year, a person who smokes one pack per day will spend $2,011on cigarettes alone. If you smoke 2 or 3 packs a day, in a year you will lose $4,022 and $6,033 on cigarettes, respectively.

Cigarettes can be far more expensive in certain states. In New York, a smoker will spend over $5,000 every year. In ten years, that same smoker will waste $50,000 on a habit that’s killing him. That’s enough to buy yourself a brand new BMW.

Personal Cost

The most obvious way that quitting smoking saves money is through no longer spending money on cigarettes. Depending on how many cigarettes you smoke, you can save on smokes simply by not purchasing cigarettes.

  • According to the American Lung Association, the average cost per pack nationwide is $5.51. You can save on cigs if you live in Tobacco Country, in states like Virginia and West Virginia, who have the lowest cigarette prices. A pack of cigarettes in these states costs around $5.
  • If you smoke approximately one pack of cigarettes per day, you can potentially save over $2000 per year.
  • This rate climbs even higher when the amount of cigarettes you smoke rises. If you smoke two packs of cigarettes, you can save more than $4000 per year.
  • If you smoke three or more packages of cigarettes per day, the savings can sometimes exceed $6000 per year, which is just one example of the financial impact of smoking.

Consider making an impulse purchase for $2000; most people would determine that this is just too expensive for an impulse buy.

Because money spent on cigarettes is often stretched out over a more extended period, it can be difficult to grasp exactly how much money you are spending.

Sitting down and working out the numbers is a startling experience for smokers, but can help give you a reality check into not only the health benefits, but also the financial benefits of quitting smoking.

If you aren’t sure what you’ve spent in the past, track your spending for a month. This will give you a rough estimate of what you spend on cigarettes throughout the year.

Your Productivity

Working-productivity-and-smokingIn addition to the direct costs of tobacco, researchers have discovered a significant wage gap between smokers and non-smokers caused by productivity loss, health-related absences and workplace bias.

The average smoker earns 8% less than a non-smoker of the same background. For the average hourly wage (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) of $25 that can mean a monthly loss of $275, and a loss of $3,306 every year.

Your Health

Your Health Insurance

Smoking_and_healthSmoking has a direct impact on health and is proven to increase the potential rate of many diseases. It also significantly increases the likelihood of early mortality. Insurance companies recognize this and see it as an increased risk. Even under Obamacare, insurance companies are permitted to add a 50% to the cost of insurance for smokers, although it also mandates that all plans provide access to smoking cessation programs without any added charges.

That risk is passed back to the consumer who smokes through increased rates, but when you stop smoking it saves you money. Each company increases their rates by an amount specific to the insurance plan in question. According to Jeff Rose from Good Financial Cents, the amount that smokers pay can frequently be up to four times higher than that of a non-smoker, so the money saved from quitting smoking also comes in the form of lower premiums for health insurance.

To make this more concrete, a hypothetical “average” individual can be used to generate instant quotes for life insurance. Using a hypothetical 30-year-old individual living in New York who stands approximately 5’7″ and weighs about 130 pounds, we can illustrate the savings directly. The results become obvious. The following is pulled from Geico’s instant quote system:


20 year term rates for non-smokers


20 year term rates for smokers

Your Productivity

In addition to the direct costs of tobacco, researchers have discovered a significant wage gap between smokers and non-smokers caused by productivity loss, health-related absences and workplace bias.

The average smoker earns 8% less than a non-smoker of the same background. For the average hourly wage (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) of $25 that can mean a monthly loss of $275, and a loss of $3,306 every year.

Cost of Smoking: Is It Worth It?

Once you add up all the losses that smoking cigarettes can cause, you get a figure as high as over $7,000 every year for an average one pack a day smoker. In 5 years, the same smoker will pay $35,000 to keep up his habit, and over a 15-year period he will lose $105,000. That’s enough to buy yourself your dream car or put your kids through college.

Quitting could save not only your life but also allow you to save many others. The money you’re spending on cigarettes is enough to build 73 wells every year and help countless people without access to clean drinking water. Just by looking at the financial figures, you can begin to realize how much you can gain by quitting — and there’s nothing to lose if you do decide to quit. Smoking is an exceptionally poor investment. A pack of cigarettes may cost less than something like a 3 in 1 vape pen but there are hidden costs to smoking as well.

Not convinced? Read The Effects of Smoking. Do you still think it’s worth it?

FAQ About the Costs of Smoking

How much money is spent on cigarettes each year in the world?

around $150 billion.

In 2016 The World Health Organization the number of cigarettes sold is estimated to be around $150 billion.

Closer to home, the CDC puts the dollar figure of money spent annually on cigarettes by Americans at $80 billion, although it is unclear to which year that refers and whether it has increased or not.

Data compiled by Euromonitor International puts the average cost of cigarettes per year in the United States, meaning the value of all cigarettes sold either wholesale and retail, at over $683.4 billion in 2016.

According to the World Health Organization, the big five tobacco companies combined:

  • Sent out close to 2.27 trillion cigarettes around the world
  • The Tobacco Atlas estimates, however, that the number of cigarettes smoked in the same year is closer to 5.7 trillion
  • In the same fiscal year, 2016, the combined sales of the big five tobacco companies totaled around $150 billion

What are the global costs of smoking?

The initial figure was $422 billion, but it only tallied the medical costs of smoking borne by countries caring for ill smokers. When coupled with how much tobacco costs, such as lost productivity and lost earnings, the amount totaled a staggering $1.436 trillion.

A 2017 study by the WHO found that the global cost of smoking, and all its related expenses, to the world’s economies, add up to $1 trillion a year. This figure factors in all the ways that tobacco affects society, including:

  • Social security costs
  • Healthcare spending
  • Absenteeism, and lost productivity
  • Damages from forest fires and other accidents
  • Increased prices for insurance

Unlike most studies that look only at how tobacco products affect the finances of the smoker, this study was carried out over 97% of the globe, meaning that this figure is comprehensive.

The study was among the first to take into account smoking’s financial impact on low and middle-income countries, as well as developed countries like the United States and the UK.

What is the cost of smoking on the healthcare system?

Smoking costs the American healthcare system alone almost $300 billion a year. Broken down:

  • $170 million goes to direct medical costs for smoking-related illnesses
  • $156 million is lost through lost productivity
  • $5.6 million goes to lost productivity due to secondhand smoke

As revealed by the World Health Organization report, healthcare spending is just one cost of smoking on society. A sampling of countries’ healthcare costs related to smoking around the world reveals as much:

  • Canada: $1.6 billion
  • The UK: $2.25 billion
  • Germany: $14.7 billion
  • Philippines: $600 million
  • China: $3.5 billion

What is the cost of smoking cessation programs?

The average cost of a pack of 14 nicotine patches is $45. Multiplied by three – for each step – that amounts to almost $135. Major retailers like Walmart or Costco might offer discounted patches, more so than drug stores and pharmacies. With nicotine patches, however, success is not always guaranteed, and relapses are a possibility.

More direct ways to ingest nicotine, like inhalers and sprays, are by prescription-only, and with a price tag of $400/month can be an expensive option for someone without insurance.

In the United States, the cost of smoking cessation programs depends on the following factors:

  • The state you live in
  • Whether are insured or uninsured
  • What program works best for you

For a complete overview of which states provide which services, consult the North American Quitline Consortium website. Take, for example, the nicotine patch, which, again depending on what state you live and how often and how much you smoke, can vary in cost.

Heavy smokers, anyone who smokes a full pack a day (20 cigarettes) must go through the three steps of nicotine patch use, which slowly lowers the amount of nicotine absorbed with each subsequent level.

Cost-effective ways to quit include:

  • Nicotine Anonymous meetings
  • Online support groups like the ones offered by the American Lung Association, or the, as well as the site
  • iPhone smoking cessation apps

Experts caution against using unproven and unscientific methods like hypnosis and acupuncture unless they are only a part of a much broader plan. A combination of all three proven smoking cessation methods – prescription drugs, nicotine replacement therapy, and counseling – are often touted as the most effective way to quit.

How much money will I save when I quit smoking?

$1,880 – that’s the amount of how much you can save in one year after quitting according to the data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Remember, this is the average amount, taking into account the totals from all fifty states.

Each state levies their own taxes on cigarettes, which means the price for a pack of cigarettes varies by each state, so how much you can save by not smoking also varies. The totals by state can be found here. Even reducing smoking by a pack a day, can net a smoker an average annual savings of $2,419.

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Published: July 9, 2015 Updated: September 8, 2021



Leave a comment

7 comments on “The Cost of Smoking

  • ocean

    December 11, 2018 at 6:23 am


  • Dawn BOYSEN

    September 14, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    I’ve been smoking for 43 years. I remember when cigarets costed 10 cents a pack. Now I pay $75 for 9 Packs. But then Illinois is high on everything including their property taxes they rank the highest in this United States on property taxes I know a lot of people who are going to be leaving the State of Illinois because they cannot afford to pay for their property taxes, Which cost more in a year than a year’s worth of cigarets.

  • Cyndi

    September 10, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Vaping is as stupid as smoking.Save your money and your health and don’t do either.

  • Bob

    April 25, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Love it

  • trey

    April 6, 2018 at 1:48 pm


  • Rebecca

    March 5, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    I really like this site it really helped me with my research on why smoking is bad thx everyone 🙂

  • Waltengus Lakachew

    November 11, 2017 at 8:00 am

    i really wants to stop smoking ….but i can’t pls pls help