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The real costs of smoking

Bobby Foley | Interrobang | Lifestyles | October 17th, 2011

If you've ever seen a pack of cigarettes, you likely already know the arguments leveled against the habit of smoking. It causes cancer. It can cause birth defects. It raises your blood pressure and diminishes your fertility, attacks your teeth, gums, lungs and skin. It's public enemy number one.

To put it bluntly, no one cares. Whether you're a smoker or not, you've seen the ad campaigns everywhere since you were old enough to watch TV or read a magazine. If you do smoke, the photos on the pack certainly aren't stopping you. So let's look at it a different way.

A pack of cigarettes will cost you between $6.75 and $8.50 for domestic brands, depending on the size that you buy. Premium cigarettes cost even more — for example, a small pack of king-sized Belmont cigarettes costs $10.50.

Suppose you smoke a regular-sized pack of domestic cigarettes a day. That translates to $59.50 per week, roughly $258 per month, and a total of $3,102.50 every year.

You aren't surprised by how much smoking costs. Like any smoker out there, you're painfully aware of how much each carton costs, and certainly able to do simple math. No, the only people who are ever shocked about how much smoking really costs are non-smokers.

But how much attention are you really paying? Regardless of where the money comes from — though that does make for an unwise investment of your OSAP funds — smoking is costing you even more than you realize.

On average, it takes a person two to 10 minutes to smoke a cigarette, depending on what size it is, how much of it they actually smoke and the context of the situation — for example, if you're with a friend and talking, it might take you much longer than if you are alone.

Using a five-minute average as an example, multiplied by 25 cigarettes in a common pack, the same person who smokes a pack a day invests 125 minutes (over two hours) in smoking them. Have you considered that math?

Granted, not every minute spent smoking is entirely wasted — people do multitask, after all — but we mustn't overlook one immutable fact that all smokers know but don't often talk about: smoking makes you poop. No two people are the same, but you can almost add another hour depending on how much the cigarette affects you.

Forget the fact that you're shortening your life in some far-off, distant future way. Seven minutes off of your lifespan when you're 80 certainly doesn't seem like much of a threat now. But what about the seven minutes you lose walking outside to have a cigarette and back? What about the seven minutes you lose in the bathroom after that cigarette break after lunch?

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone here at college age who still thinks that smoking is "cool," and a large percentage of the student body doesn't even touch cigarettes. So the next time you refer to yourself as a social smoker, consider instead just how anti-social a practice it really is.
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