Save your life and your money: Quit smoking

quit smoking

This week, the Canadian government announced it would propose new restrictions to help discourage young people from smoking. In 2010, the government banned flavoured additives that made tobacco products more appealing to youth, but tobacco companies have created a different strategy by altering the weight of additives or removing filters.

“Our government is committed to taking action to protect children and youth from the dangers of smoking,” says Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health. “Our government is proposing to take action to close this loophole and continue to take necessary steps to ensure smoking rates decrease.”

The government has good reason to act. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Canada, causing more than 37,000 deaths each year. Direct health care for smokers and tobacco users costs an estimated $4.4 billion annually, and when related costs (such as lost wages and productivity) are added, the total bill swells to an estimated $17 billion per year.

But what about the wallet of the average smoker?

Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, points out the double-barreled dangers of smoking:

Your health is absolutely priceless and should be a top priority in your life,” says Schwartz. “Financial freedom is probably near the top of your priority list too, and quitting smoking could help solve two very serious problems at once.”

Health Canada found that 12 per cent of Canadians light up every day, smoking an average of 15 cigarettes daily. Meanwhile, a report from the Smoking and Health Action Foundation shows that a carton of 200 cigarettes costs an average of $101.43, or 50.7 cents per cigarette.

Consolidated Credit has crunched the numbers and compared your potential savings to The Lung Association’s quit smoking timeline:

Time Elapsed Your Body Your Wallet*
2 days Sense of smell and taste improves $15.21
3 days Breathing is easier; lung capacity improves $22.92
3 months Blood circulation improves; lung functioning increases by 30% $684.65
6 months Coughing, tiredness and shortness of breath improves $1,369.31
1 year Your risk of smoking-related heart attack is cut in half $2,738.61
10 years Your risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half $27,386.10
15 years Your risk of dying from a heart attack is the same as a person who never smoked $41,079.15

“As if we needed any further proof that quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do, these numbers show us that fifteen smoke-free years can repair your heart to normal and save you enough for a luxury car,” adds Schwartz. “It’s a no-brainer.”

*Money saved is based on an average of 15 cigarettes per day, at the average Canadian cost of buying a carton ($101.43 for 200 cigarettes). Prices can vary based on province and cigarette brand and quantity.

If you want to learn more about making responsible financial decisions, check out Consolidated Credit’s free Personal Finance educational section. If you’re struggling with debt, call one of our trained counsellors today at for a free debt analysis.

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