Making cents: Quitting smoking a burning issue every year

Every January, the same promises appear again and again on New Year’s resolution lists. New items, like “less time online”, might be gaining in popularity, but exercising more, losing weight, and quitting smoking are hardy perennials. They keep appearing because they can be tough to achieve.

If stopping smoking has been on your to-do list for years, but you are still lighting up, there is plenty of help this year.

Whether you have quit this year’s attempt or you haven’t tried, all smokers know they would be better off without cigarettes. From the smoking ban to increasingly graphic ads, at every term society encourages smokers to stop.

And aside from the health impacts, the financial costs of smoking are punitive.

A 20-box-a-day habit will set you back more than €360 per month. At €12 a box, it works out at €4,380 per annum, enough to cover a substantial chunk of an annual mortgage/rent or pay for a memorable holiday. Even if you smoke half that amount, you are still talking about devoting more than €2,000 per year to a hobby that only damages you.

And that is just the immediate cost to your pocket. There are also long-term consequences.

Research shows smokers can expect to pay up to double what non-smokers do for life cover, with the difference increasing as people get older. As well as reducing the amount of protection a smoker can afford, this also will impact the overall cost of a mortgage, as life cover is usually a condition of mortgage drawdown.

The good financial news for Irish smokers is that there is substantial free support available to help them quit.

At www.quit.ie, the HSE offers a range of free supports and advice. Smokers can order a free quit pack to be sent to them, avail of daily text message and/or email support, and have access to trained support through the Live Chat on the website.

If you have used these before and feel you will need more assistance, the HSE also provides more in-depth support free of charge. They are well worth considering — the healthcare provider reports that one-to-one intensive support, combined with drug treatments, has the highest success rate for people quitting smoking.

The HSE offer this service over the phone or face-to-face with trained smoking-cessation practitioners. A range of smoking-cessation-support services are held in clinics countrywide, some in the community and some in hospitals.

Most are held weekly or fortnightly and you can ring to make an appointment. You can find a list of clinics and their contact details are at www.quit.ie.

For many people, drug treatments can be the difference between success and failure in quitting. These include nicotine-replacement therapy — be it patches, lozenges, inhalers, or gum.

A number of prescription treatments that have been shown to help, normally either Champix or Zyban. Champix works by reducing the enjoyment of smoking, and desire to smoke, while Zyban reduces the cravings, irritability, and other side-effects of quitting. If you have a medical card, you can avail of these for free, if prescribed. Even if you don’t have a medical card, if these products have been prescribed, they count toward the €134 limit for the Drug Payment Scheme.

A lot of people find January a bad time to make a change. The comedown after Christmas and long, cold nights make it hard to contemplate breaking a habit. If this is your reason for not quitting smoking, the good news is that it is considered a good idea to set a quit date in the (near) future and prepare a quitting plan.

So why not use the the next few weeks to get your head round the idea. You can choose to start on February 1 or at the start of Lent. Easter falls early this year, so Ash Wednesday is also Valentine’s Day, February 14.

Your loved-ones would prefer no greater present than the promise of a smoke-free future.

Deal of the week

If finally shopping around to save money on your monthly bills was one of your resolutions for 2018, it is worth checking out Virgin Media’s latest deals, which are available for the month of January.

The company is calling the sale “What you see is what you get” as the price you sign up for will last the duration of your commitment. Rather than getting a six-month offer on an 18-month contract, the sale price is valid for the full year of the contract, so customers can move when it increases.

There are deals for bundles of broadband and home phone and triple offers for customers who also want TV.

Customers can get unlimited 240Mb broadband and Anytime Mobile calls for €44 per month, or add on more than 50 channels with Virgin Mix TV for €59 per month. There are also packages available with extra channels and faster broadband.

Virgin Media also offers tv-only deals but on these the prices rise after four months. Find out more at www.virginmedia.ie.


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