Quit smoking and save money: Here's how much cigarettes are really costing you


Already know that smoking can cost you your health, your youthful good looks, and even your social standing?

What you might not realize is just how much of a toll the habit can take on you financially.

According to one broad estimate, smoking can make you a million bucks poorer over the course of your lifetime, given the compounding opportunity cost of dropping cash on cigarette packs instead of better investments.

Despite these drawbacks, 52 million Americans continue to light up, according a new government report.

Luckily, the proportion of U.S. smokers is declining, especially within younger demographics: The number of smokers aged 18 to 25 dropped by more than a third between 2002 and 2015. Some cigarette companies are now fighting to stay popular with marketing campaigns targeting both black Americans and millennials.

The dip in cigarette popularity is in part thanks to public health efforts reminding Americans that smoking is the number one cause of preventable death. A decline in cigarette use may also reflect the rise in use of electronic vaporizing devices for delivering nicotine.

Whether cigs are truly less expensive than vaping — or vaping is cheaper — continues to be up for debate

What is certain is that quitting smoking can save you a ton of cash. Here are the factors that determine exactly how much, and why.

Your savings depend on where you live.

Costs vary by state: After one year of quitting, a pack-a-day smoker in New York, for example, will save around $4,599. You can buy two first class flights to Hawaii with that.

New York City has the highest priced cigarettes in the country at $12.60 a pack, according to the Awl's annual price of smoking list; notably, New York has led the charge on cigarette tax hikes

The cheapest smokes are in Kentucky, at $5.19 a pack. According to the list, North Dakota has the most reliably-affordable cigarettes — seeing as it made the "top five" cheapest every year since the list began in 2011. 

To determine your savings, plug your use and location into these calculators.

Quitters recoup more than just the cost of cigarette packs.

Health or life insurance companies typically ask about cigarette use because smokers cost them more, and they will then pass that expense on to you.

Although insurers can't charge consumers more for a health condition, they can charge a great deal more for unhealthy habits, like smoking. Healthcare premiums for smokers can be as much as 50% higher than for a non-smoker.

Similarly, life insurance premiums for smokers can be around 15% to 20% more than for non-smokers: If a non-smoker pays a $500 annual premium, a smoker may pay $600. 

Some good news?

For both kinds of insurance, costs will drop as soon as you quit. Though you'll still pay more than someone who has never lit up, former smokers pay less than current ones.

Smokers can get also burned on car and real estate depreciation — or the loss of rental deposits. That's because the smell of cigarettes and any damage caused by burns will directly affect the resale value of your home or car.

Finally, there are other benefits for workers who ditch their cigs: Smokers take more sick days than non-smokers, according to a United Kingdom study.

You can literally make money by quitting.

Let's say you're in the Baltimore area and you want to quit smoking. By not purchasing $7 packs each day, you'll save $2,555 in a year. Pretty sweet. 

But, if you also signed up to work with the researchers at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, you could pick up even more dough and contribute to science by participating in their smoking cessation studies and pocket up to $950 after three months. 

Live elsewhere? Check out the national database of ongoing research studies or take a look around local universities to find a similar one near you.