Vice or Victory

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou may prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers”.  3 John 1:2.

I was absolutely startled when I heard the statistics; how much one man spent on his smoking habit per day.  Funny thing is I wasn’t looking for information on this topic.  The program I was watching wasn’t even about smoking.  The presenter was talking about living a healthy lifestyle and just mentioned this habit he once had.  I’ve never been a smoker and I’ve never lived closely enough to one to pay much attention to the cost of this habit, so when I heard the numbers I was flabbergasted.  The cost was the catalyst to help the speaker stop.

It is our mission to help people; especially business owners keep better record of their finances so they can make informed decisions about how to use their resources to get the best return.  When I heard the numbers about the cost of smoking cigarettes I had to talk about it.

According to the Center for Disease Control about 18%, 42 million, Americans over the age of 18 smoke cigarettes.  Of that number, less than half of them smoke less than one pack per day.  That means the majority of smokers smoke more than one pack per day.  In the state of Alabama, the average price of a pack of cigarettes is $5.51.  Assuming that a person limits himself (most smokers are men) to one pack per day, he will spend $2,011 per year.  Over 40 years, he will spend $40,223; assuming he only smokes one pack per day.

I took that figure and plugged it into a Roth IRA calculator at and figured that if that same $2011 was invested each month for 40 years at 6% interest, net 3% for inflation, also assuming a 25% tax rate, our smoker could earn $230,786.31 in interest on his money.  That may not be a lot to have a dream retirement, however, how many people attempt to retire on much less than that?

Another figure I was curious about is the cost in lost productivity due to death or injury related to smoking.  According to the CDC, the average smoker dies 10 years earlier than a non-smoker.  Current figures are 480,000 deaths per year related directly to smoking, and 41,000 related to second hand smoke.

The average American household makes $52,000 per year.  The average household is defined as a family of four.  For the simplicity, we’ll assume that two of those people are working adults, bringing in equal salary; $26,000 per year.  (Statistics however show that men are consistently paid on average 33% more than women for the same job, but that is another discussion for another time.)  One day one of our adults dies from a smoking related illness.  Instantly that family is now living dangerously close to national the poverty level ($24,000).  That individuals earning potential is lost; $260,000 over 10 years.  As a nation, it’s estimated that we lose $156 BILLION due to premature death related to smoking.

Of those who do not die, 61 million people live with a smoking related illness.  For every smoker that dies, 30 live with illness.  How many of those people are on disability?  How much is spent on health care?  What is the true cost of a cigarette?

I’m not here to shame smokers or put them on blast.  Everyone has the God given right to make their own choices about how they take care of their bodies.  I really do wonder though, how many people really understand what this habit costs them in dollars and cents.  Many people are looking for money to make it to the end of the month, many people retire without adequate savings, and many families are left to “figure it out” after a loved one is disabled or dies due to a smoking related illness.  What is the real cost?

We started out with the scripture from 3 John 1:2 which states I wish above all things that you prosper and be in good health even as your soul prospers.  Truth is health is wealth.  Everyone needs a measure of health to create wealth.  Almost every person who has sacrificed health for material wealth would change their priorities if give a second chance.  Why not use the gift of life that each of us has been given to use your talents and abilities the best you can for as long as you can? God has given the body the amazing ability to heal itself.  The moment you stop smoking you begin to regain the time that was lost.  After 20 years, it’s possible that you can function as though you never had the habit.

The is a smoking cessation clinic this week, starting today , Monday July 13, 2015 at 6:00 at the Richard Showers Center here in Huntsville, AL.  There are several others going on around the country on a consistent basis.  Check out the internet to find on near you.  Get the victory over your vice.  Get your money back!

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