A 20-a-day smoker will rack up lifetime bill of €200,000

People who smoke 20 cigarettes a day are racking up bills of more than €200,000 over the course of their life, while “social smokers” are tripling the risk of heart failure without even realising it.

  'Social smokers' triple the risk of heart failure

The claims were made by two of the country’s leading anti-smoking organisations as part of a new plea to encourage people to stub out the habit.

Speaking during its annual No Smoking Day appeal, which takes place every Ash Wednesday, ASH Ireland warned users that cigarettes are not only causing untold damage to their health — they are also wreaking havoc on their finances.

According to the group, an average 20-a-day habit costs a smoker almost €3,500 a year — a rate that surges to a massive €200,000 over the course of a lifetime.

The financial impact may not be noticeable in daily life. However, the group has urged anyone smoking regularly to realise they are throwing away hard-earned money on a product that is killing them.

“Much of this cost is on taxes and the remainder enhances the profits of the tobacco industry.

“I encourage smokers, the vast majority of whom want to quit, to consider quitting — and this is a good time to make that key decision,” said ASH Ireland chairman Dr Ross Morgan, adding: “If a smoker can make that key decision to quit and break the link with the addiction to nicotine, both health and financial benefits will quickly follow.”

A similar call for people to stub out their cigarettes has also been made by the Irish Heart Foundation, which said “social smokers” are tripling their risk of developing heart problems without even realising the damage being done.

The group based the claim on British research which found “part-time” smokers are in denial about their habit’s impact, with one-in-four saying they are worried about long-term health repercussions.

“One million people are smokers in Ireland and a quarter of these are regarded as occasional or social smokers, consuming one to five cigarettes per day.

“There is a common misperception that smoking occasionally or smoking a lesser amount than regular or heavy smokers, carries little or no risk. This is not true and today is about dispelling those myths to say, if you smoke one to five cigarettes a day, you are putting yourself at high risk of heart attack and stroke,” said Irish Heart Foundation medical director Dr Angie Brown.

The expert added that while social smoking affects all sections of society, women should be particularly worried about the damage it can cause. This is because women metabolise nicotine faster than men, making them significantly more likely to suffer health problems due to the habit.

“Women’s arteries are smaller than in men and, when combined with nicotine consumption, which causes blood vessels to narrow, women are at greater risk of blockages or vascular complications,” she said.

Previous Irish Heart Foundation research has found that 12 months after a person stops smoking their risk of suffering a heart attack cuts in half, while after just a few days their sense of taste improves and they are able to breathe more normally.

* Contact the HSE’s QUIT campaign at www.quit.ie or 1850-201-203

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