Costs of smoking: burning money

The argument against smoking is probably older than you are.

- Smoking causes lung cancer

- Smoking stunts your growth

- Smoking stains your teeth and gums

- Smoking can cause Erectile Dysfunction

- Smoking gives you wrinkles

- Smoking can cause birth defects in unborn children

- Smoking can cause lung damage such as Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis

- Smoking raises blood pressure

- Smoking can cause infertility

Sadly, even though each of the above facts is correct, I'm sure you just skimmed over them. I doubt you read each one, or were remotely surprised at the list.

We've heard it all. Slapping cautions and images on cigarette packages only expedited our numbness to react or heed it's warning.

People are so caught up with the newest technology and acquiring the latest information that we tend to ignore the hard, undisputed facts of the past. Any of the affects listed above certainly made headlines back when they were first uncovered, but that was long ago.

You're not going to find a magazine cover announcing Cigarette Smoke Causes Cancer! because this is not news. This is a fact. A fact that we've known for so many years, that we now fail to react to its meaning, its importance or it's magnitude.

It's frightening to accept and frustrating to watch as so many young, healthy, gorgeous kids leave high school and enter college with a pack of smokes tucked in their backpack.

I will not waste my breathe in this space I've been given to reiterate the messages you've known since elementary school; Smoking is Wrong. When we're told that something is forbidden, it is in our nature as human beings to rebel.

In psychology, the Reactance Theory suggests that when people believe that their freedom is being threatened they behave in ways that are the opposite of what they've been told.

Most adolescents are in a constant state of Reactance for their entire teenage years! The stage is then set; they become increasingly susceptible to smoking, drinking and using drugs. Aching for independence, struggling to branch off and yearning to separate from their parents. This time is delicate and weak in the face of something as deliciously forbidden as a long, slender cigarette.

But like I said, these words are too familiar and they fall flat at the feet of your savvy, technologically gifted generation. Constant medical intervention and new discoveries have filled young adults with an exaggerated sense of immortality and indestructibility. Smokers feel confident that cancer will be cured long before it touches them.

How do you reach a generation this out of touch with the truth? This numb to the reality that the clock IS ticking! You are NOT invincible! Your iPhone will not be adding a chemotherapy app in the future!

What's the one thing that no amount of laptop-cell phone-MP3-blue tooth-Facebook-Twitter hybrids will be able to give you?


The only word that still speaks to you, with the same weight it spoke to your Grandparents. Money. The substance we all gravitate towards.

So let's talk cash: Currency. Dough. Shilling. Dollar. Moolah. Pound. Loonie. Peso. Bread. Fiver. Ten-spot!!

Got it?

You crazy OSAP-borrowing, grant-grabbing, bursary-begging, Kraft-Dinner-eating college students are spending up to $9.75 a day on a pack of cigarettes!


Okay, time for some math folks!

$9.75 (per pack) x 7 (days a week) = $68.25 (a week)

$68.25 x 52 (weeks per year) = $3,549



Do you know what you could do with that much money?

- Fly you and three friends to Mexico for Spring Break

- Buy a car and stop taking the bus!

- Get a ridiculously fancy laptop

- Buy a new Canon EOS 5D Mark II

- Take it all to Vegas and double down on Red!

- Give yourself a What Not To Wear makeover!

- Wisely invest it and have a down payment for a house when you graduate!

- Pay three years of tuition

- Spend a month traveling through Europe


- You could just live comfortably for the next two or three years and be able to afford going to the movies and hangout with your friends rather than sitting home alone being stinking broke (literally: stinky and broke!)

Now, think about this: are you living off of OSAP this year?

If so, you're actually borrowing the money that you're using to buy your cigarettes this year and will eventually be paying it back; with interest!

Time for more math kiddies!

$3,549 (per year) x 3 (years in program) = $10,647 (borrowed for cigarettes!!!)


There's more...

With a current Prime Interest Rate of 3.5%, your monthly payments for this "Cigarette Loan" would be $124.00/month when you graduate!

According to the repayment calculator on the OSAP website, you would be expected to pay $124.00 a month for 114 months or 9.5 years! This is how long it takes the average student to pay back OSAP loans, but you can take up to 15 years.

Remember folks, we're not looking at your entire OSAP loan; just the portion that you spent on smokes!

Imagine if you will, that you're also still smoking when you graduate (dear lord!!)

Your smoking/smoke-loan repayment costs are going to balloon from a diminutive $3,549/year to a whopping $5,037 a year!

Over the course of that 9.5 years, you'll be spending a grand total of... ready for this?

$47,851.50 in CIGARETTES IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS!!!!!

You'll be lucky if your salary is half that when you graduate!

We're all hoping to find a good job when we're done here. Carrying this much debt each month is like accepting a $20.00/hr job, but only being paid $17.50 for almost 10 years.

Cancer schmancer folks, this future budget will kill you long before your cells start to display abnormal growth.

We're all going to graduate with debt and the distinct deficit of entering the job market during a recession. Why make it any harder for yourself?