The FDA just introduced a series of appropriately gruesome warnings to be placed on cigarette packaging and advertisements. One image, for instance, shows a man lying down, eyes closed, with a zipper of staples lining his yellow-skinned chest, along with the straightforward message, “WARNING: Smoking can kill you.”
Another of the new FDA warning labels, which will become standard on cigarette packaging by September 2012, features a close-up of a nasty set of teeth with brown-blotchy lips and the warning “Smoking causes cancer,” while still another warns “Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby” and shows an illustration of a baby in intensive care.
Here is how one of the warnings will look on a cigarette pack:
While the health concerns are obviously more important, the introduction of the new warning labels seems like a fine time to be reminded that smoking can kill your finances as well. According to the CDC, the average pack of smokes sold for a retail price of $4.80 in 2010—cheaper in some states, much more expensive in others. The average pack-a-day habit cost $1,752 last year, therefore.
But that’s only the start of how much smoking costs. Granted, all of these figures could vary wildly (including the cost of cigarettes), but if the smoker were to save that money rather than see it disappear up in smoke, that $1,752 saved annually would add up to roughly $130,000 over 30 years with a mediocre 5% interest rate. I suppose, however, that if you smoked all those years, perhaps you wouldn’t need the money down the line—because there’s a good chance you’d be dead.
Smoking also costs non-smokers a pretty penny: The CDC estimates that the total economic costs—medical expenses and lost productivity—is $10.47 per pack of cigarettes, and cigarette smoking is responsible for hundreds of billions of health-related economic losses annually.