Making Cents: Stub it out and save yourself a fortune

Consumer advice with Gráinne McGuinness.

Imagine if you could make a single change in your life that would immediately make you better off and have lifelong benefits for your health and quality of life? For smokers, that possibility is always there. All a smoker has to do is stop smoking and they improve their heart health, their blood pressure and reduce their risk of cancer.

Chairman of ASH Ireland Patrick Doorley believes this is an ideal time of year to consider making this change “It is well established that over 70% of smokers wish to quit and are often seeking opportunities to make the decision and proceed, “ he said. “ASH Wednesday is an ideal opportunity. Quitting will have an immediate positive impact on the smoker’s health and this will increase in the weeks and months ahead.”

Money pales in importance by comparison with these improvements but quitting cigarettes will also have a significant effect on your finances. “A 20-a-day smoker will spend over €4,000 per annum on cigarettes and this can be put to so many other positive uses, such as holidays and day-to-day spending,” Dr Doorley said. 

The latest budget increase brought cigarettes in the most popular price category to €12.70, bringing the cost of a 20-a-day habit to €4,635.50. When calculating the costs of smoking, it is not just about the price of the cigarettes or tobacco. The negative impact on health could also become expensive, in terms of the cost of medical intervention and the impact on your ability to earn a living.

Being a smoker also comes with an immediate financial penalty when buying certain financial products. Smokers can pay twice as much for life insurance than their non-smoking counterparts, according to figures released by protection specialist Royal London. Experts at The experts say they are flagging the cost comparisons to further spur on the thousands of people who are challenging themselves to kick the nicotine habit for good.

“Not only is there a major health benefit in the offing but potentially there is a large financial one too,” Tony Burke of Royal London in Cork said. “As you might imagine smokers pay more in premiums for life insurance than non-smokers, due to the many damaging health effects of cigarettes, but people may not be aware of just how sizeable the difference can be between the premiums charged.”

Recent cost analysis from Royal London reveals the stark difference in premiums that can accumulate over the term of a policy. A smoker turning 45 on their next birthday will pay over €16,600 more in premiums than their non-smoking counterpart for €300,000 worth of ‘level-term life cover’ over a 25 year term. A smoker can expect to pay over €63,900 more than a non-smoker in a ‘specified serious illness’ policy for €300,000 over a 25-year term.

“There is a massive difference in price when you consider how much the savings add up over the lifetime of the cover,” Mr Burke said.

“So aside from the obvious health benefits of quitting publicised by medical and healthcare professionals, there are quite clear financial gains to be made, which include a potential reduction in the cost of your life insurance.”

“I would encourage smokers to contact the National Smokers Quitline on Freephone 1800 201 203, where assistance is available. Smokers can also use the various nicotine replacement therapies, which are available in chemists, as an aid to quitting. We encourage any method that will assist smokers to quit and break the habit ,” says Dr Doorley.

And it can be done, statistics suggest Ireland is increasingly becoming a nation of quitters. The Healthy Ireland Survey 2018 reported 20% of the population smoke, a decline of 3% from 23% in 2015.

“While smoking is still prevalent in Ireland, it is dwindling in popularity with over half of smokers (57%) at least thinking about quitting, and 40% of current smokers having attempted to quit in the past 12 months,” Mr Burke said.

DEAL OF THE WEEK

SSE Airtricity’s current new-customer offer will appeal to anyone thinking of making the move to a connected home, particularly if they live in an older property.

Their one-year Dual Fuel Smart Home deal offers customers a free Climote Heating Control, an Amazon Echo and an Echo Spot — if you pay by direct debit and agree to get bills by email.

That is in addition to a 10% discount on their standard electricity unit rates and 10% off their standard gas unit rate.

Once customers switch, the company will email them with details on how to redeem their Smart Home Bundle after a 14-day cooling off period. Customers can then arrange Climote installation and delivery of the Echo devices.

The offer is dependent on heating control ECO credits being available at your property. If not, the company will ask you to contact them for alternative offers.

You can get full terms and conditions and apply at www.sseairtricity.com

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