Making Cents: It pays to make this costly habit go up in smoke

If you are determined that this is the year that you stop smoking for good, free supports are available.
Making Cents: It pays to make this costly habit go up in smoke

Smoking: kicking the habit could save you up to €700 per annum

Ash Wednesday happens this week, a day traditionally used to encourage smokers to quit. We all know the many good reasons to give up cigarettes. The financial gains are much less important than the health benefits but are still significant.

Many smokers deliberately avoid doing the maths but, at €14 for a box of 20, a 20-a-day habit works out at €5,110 per year. That’s more than €400 a month spent doing something that causes you harm, that your family and friends wish you wouldn’t do and that you more than likely regret ever starting.

If you smoke half that amount, you are still devoting more than €50 per week from your budget to smoking. Even a single box a week, if you are a couple in the evening or at weekends smoker, works out at more than €700 per annum.

Smoking costs you more than just the price of the cigarettes. According to recent figures released by Royal London, a smoker could pay anywhere from €6,000+ to €60,000+ more than their non-smoking counterpart for life assurance.

Experts at the company say that many policyholders are unaware of the significant cost savings that can be made on their life insurance premiums if they have given up smoking – with non-smokers benefiting from a reduction in premiums of up to around 50%.

“When weighing up the advantages of quitting smoking, we generally think about the obvious health benefits and the cost savings to be gained from not purchasing cigarettes frequently,” Colette Houton, Underwriting and Claims Lead at Royal London said. 

“However, fewer people may immediately think of the significant cost benefit of quitting in terms of the impact it has on life cover premiums. As you might imagine, smokers pay more in premiums for life insurance than non-smokers, due to many damaging health effects, but people may not be aware of just how sizeable the difference can be between the premiums charged.” 

“A smoker turning 35 on their next birthday will pay over €6,000 more in premiums than their non-smoking counterpart for €300,000 worth of Level Term Life Cover over a 25-year term. A smoker turning 45 on their next birthday can expect to pay over €68,300 more than a non-smoker during the course of a Specified Serious Illness policy for €300,000 over a 25-year term.

“Our experience is that while many people expect that smokers will pay more in premiums; they are surprised how much the cost savings can add up to over the lifetime of the cover.” So smoking is not just unhealthy, it’s expensive. The good news is that there are supports out there to help smokers who want to kick the habit, and many of them are free.

If you are determined that this is the year that you stop smoking for good, is a good place to start. Run by the HSE, here you can sign up for a quit plan to get free help and support to stop smoking. You can also sign up by calling the National Smokers’ Quitline on 1800 201 203 or sending a text message saying QUIT to 50100.

When you sign up, you can get a daily email and text support, a personalised web page to track your progress, one-to-one support from a trained stop smoking advisor and tips from people who have stopped smoking. If you need them, the site also offers advice on various nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) options, such as patches and gum. If you have a medical card, you can get free NRT on prescription.

The HSE also run stop smoking clinics in many locations, although these services may be affected by the ongoing pandemic. You can find a list of support services in your area on the HSE website.

Pick of the week 

As Ireland's lovers celebrate Valentine's this month, Irish mental health support site turn2me, is urging couples to use this time to take stock and reset.

“As we continue to navigate the day to day of living in a pandemic, the relationships that are most important to us are being put under pressure like never before," Brian Holohan, Clinical Manager of turn2me said. “With Valentine’s Day approaching, many couples are now acutely aware of issues that have emerged during the last number of months. While we can’t celebrate 14th February in the usual way, we are urging couples to consider this time as an opportunity to seek support and a helping hand if needed." 

With the support of the HSE and Sláintecare, all turn2me services are professional, free of charge, and available online nationwide.

turn2me counsellors have at least a 4-year degree in counselling or psychotherapy. turn2me counsellors who work with young people and couples have an additional qualification in the relevant field.

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