Pricing has overtaken health concerns as the biggest motivator for people to stop smoking or to cut down on the amount they smoke.
Over in Australia, a study was conducted by The University of Queensland by using national survey data that found the cost of cigarettes has become the main reason why Australians who smoke have quit in recent years.
This is due to the Australian government re-analysing their efforts on how to get people to stop smoking. Instead of focusing on mass media anti-smoking educational campaigns, they began to target cigarette prices.
The price of cigarettes rose by 25 per cent in 2010 and another 12.5 per cent annually between 2013 and 2020. People who were once only considering quitting due to health reasons, may be inclined to quit when they are faced with the price of 20 cigarettes, which is estimated to be $40.
Everyone is feeling the pressures of the cost of living crisis around the world, so the price of cigarettes has become a big factor for people looking to take the next step and stop smoking all together. The results of a poll conducted in 2019 gave insight as to why those who stopped smoking, did. A majority of 48 per cent listed their main motivation for quitting was the price of cigarettes, compared to 30 per cent in 2007.
How expensive is smoking?
The question of how expensive is smoking can apply to state levels and personal levels. At state levels, the cost of smoking affects various levels of social care, NHS services and businesses. The UK government has estimated that smoking costs them approximately £12.6 billion a year. This is made up of £1.4 billion spent on social care, £2.5 billion spent on NHS services and £8.6 billion lost via reduced productivity in businesses due to smokers being more likely to die while they are still of working age.
On a personal level, smoking affects both your health and financial situations. Half of all life-long smokers go to an early grave, losing on average 10 years of their life. In 2016, smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in England, and makes up for 16% of all deaths across the entirety of the UK. Smoking has an effect on most organs in the body, here is how:
- Brain: Smoking increases the risk of having a stroke by at least 50%
- Heart: Smoking can double the risk of having a heart attack
- Bones: Smoking can cause bones to become weak and brittle which increases the risk of osteoporosis in women
- Lungs: Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from COPD
- Circulation: Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate
- Fertility: Smoking can cause a lack of sexual appetite and impotency in men, and can make it harder for females to conceive
- Mouth and throat: Smoking can increase the risk of cancer in lips, tongue, throat, voice box and gullet
- Stomach: Smoking increases the chance of getting stomach cancer or ulcers
- Skin: Smoking prematurely ages skin by between 10 and 20 years
Financially, the average smoker smokes 20 cigarettes a day; with the price of 20 cigarettes costing £13.30 that equals a cost of £93.10 per week, or £4,841.20 per year.
For the price of smoking per year, you could go on a family holiday abroad, including hotel, flights and entertainment, and still have enough left over for some spending money.
A lot of people simply don’t realise and never stop to ask themselves how expensive is smoking. For a more relatable comparison, the average food shop for a family of 4 in 2020 was £99 per week. Essentially meaning the price of 20 cigarettes over a year is equal to 48 weeks of shopping.
How to stop smoking
Whilst it can easy for some to quit cold turkey, the majority of smokers will need a tailored plan to keep themselves on track. A well thought out quit plan will address both the short-term challenge of stopping smoking and the long-term challenge of preventing relapse.
To help identify and set out the best way to stop smoking for yourself, take some time to ask yourself some questions. What kind of smoker are you? Which moments in your life call for a cigarette, and why? By evaluating yourself, you’ll be able to identify different tips, techniques and therapies that will be most beneficial.
In order to best prepare yourself for quitting, follow the START guidelines below.
Set a quit date. Choose a date within the next two weeks, providing yourself with enough to time to prepare without losing the motivation to quit. People who mainly smoke at work should quit on a weekend, providing the body with time to adjust.
Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you intend to quit. Support is often necessary when making life changing decisions, and it’s no different with smoking. Let your friends and family know that you intend to quit and will need their support and encouragement. It can also be helpful to find a quit buddy. Someone who is also wanting to quit that could encourage you through tough periods, and likewise you can do the same for them.
Anticipate and plan for the challenges you’ll face while quitting. Most people who plan to quit begin smoking against within the first three months. This can be prevented by planning ahead for common challenges, such as cravings and nicotine withdrawal.
Remove any references or items that contain cigarettes and tobacco from your home, car, and work. Throw all of your cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, and matches away. Any clothes that smell of smoke should be washed and freshened up. Try to get rid of anything that reminds you of smoking, including smells.
Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit. Knowing how to stop smoking isn’t everybody’s forte. Your doctor can help prescribe medication to help with withdrawal symptoms and offer expert advice. If a doctor is unavailable, there are plenty of products available over the counter at your local pharmacy, including nicotine patches, lozenges and gum.
Whilst the above is only the start of your how to stop smoking timeline, there are plenty of different resources available that will help you on your journey. Nation Health Service England have services staffed with expert advisers that can provide you with a range of proven methods to help you quit. During the first few months, they’ll be able to provide you with accurate information, advice and support. They can also make it easy and affordable for you to get your hands on treatments, such as Bupropion and nicotine replacement therapies.
Stop smoking timeline
The stop smoking timeline can help you know what to expect when you quit. It can also be a great way to stay motivated knowing what benefits you’ll encounter in your smoke-free future. Finding the best way to stop smoking can be a difficult and arduous journey, so reminding yourself of the benefits of stopping smoking may provide a positive effect.
The stop smoking timeline acts as a visual representation of what positive changes you can expect on each step of your journey. For instance, within the first 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and pulse will begin to return to their normal levels.
Within 8 hours the harmful levels of carbon monoxide should have been halved. You should also see your oxygen levels return to their normal levels.
24 hours after quitting, congratulations you’ve made it to the end of a full day without smoking! All traces of carbon monoxide in the body should have left and the lungs will begin to clear.
Day 2 of no smoking you should begin to notice improvements in your sense of taste and smell. Smoking coats the tongue and nasal passages in tar, reducing the effectiveness of your tastebuds and nostrils.
Reaching day 3 with no smoking and you should start to find breathing easier as the bronchial tubes start to relax. As breathing becomes easier you may also find that your energy levels are starting to increase.
From 2 weeks after quitting smoking and over the coming months, exercise and other physical activities should be noticeably easier. At this stage, lung function increases and circulation improves, with blood flowing through to the heart and muscles much easier. The immune system should also receive a boost, allowing it to fight of colds and flu better. Motivation will also be improved; you’ll finally feel up to doing stuff on your to-do list.
At the 3 to 9 months mark, any coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing you might have experienced when you were smoking should now be improving. At this point in the stop smoking timeline, lung function increases by up to 10%. Air sacs known as the cilia will have regrown, healing some of the damage caused by smoking. Tiredness related to smoking should now have disappeared.
After a whole year, a full 12 months, give yourself a giant pat on the back. A year in and your risk of heart disease, attacks or a stroke is now half that of a smoker. Hopefully you feel healthier, wealthier, given what you have saved over the last 12 months by not buying cigarettes.
10 years in…just let that sink in…a decade of smoking free life and your risk of dying from lung cancer is now half that of a smoker. The chances of developing other cancers such as mouth and pancreas have also fallen significantly.
All of the above aren’t the only what happens when you stop smoking benefits. You’ll notice plenty of other small and large differences, from your mental health and wellbeing, stress, anxiety and depression. Keep it up and you’re well on your way to reaping the benefits of stopping smoking.