Coulda had a Rolex and a Mercedes! Smokers spend $166,000 on cigarettes during their lifetime

LONDON — Smokers spend enough on cigarettes over their adult lifetime to buy four brand-new family cars, two round-the-world cruises, or make down payments on two houses, according to new research. Alternatively, that money could also go towards 15 luxury Rolex Submariner watches or Hermes Birkin handbags, with some cash still left over!

The study of 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom who use nicotine products — including cigarette smokers — finds that 67 percent admit they know they are wasting money, but three-quarters have already failed in their attempt to quit. Of those who want to quit, 74 percent say money is their main motivation, just ahead of improving their health (72%).

Cigarettes are the main source of nicotine, with the average smoker spending $2,685 on cigarettes a year, adding up to a staggering $166,739 over an adult lifetime.

“It’s surprising to see these figures laid out in front of you in this way,” says Christian Woolfenden, managing director of Philip Morris Limited, which commissioned the study for Unsmoke UK, in a statement.

“Most people would be delighted with a cash boost of more than $100,000—but seeing it slip away bit by bit on cigarettes is avoidable by quitting. There are still over six million smokers in the UK, but there are lots of resources to help.”

Scroll down to see the 9 biggest health risks from smoking cigarettes

(© zinkevych –

As part of the research, the survey also polled users of vapes, nicotine pouches, and heated tobacco. It emerged that those who use disposable vapes spend an average of $1,389 a year on the product — significantly less than the $2,685 smokers spend on cigarettes. During the average adult lifetime, this would equate to a total of $86,087. The average annual bill for nicotine pouch users is $1,947, with their lifetime balance reaching $120,913.

While those who use heated tobacco tend to spend up to $43.10 worth of the product each week — which would work out to be a total of $139,053 during their adult years — again, less than cigarettes. It also emerged that those who have tried to quit nicotine in the past have attempted to do so an average of five times each — with one in 20 even trying 11 to 15 times.

Nearly half of British smokers (47%) were not aware that as of March 15, prices for a pack of 20 cigarettes are due to increase. Once they found out, 45 percent were more inclined to try and stop smoking once and for all. Nearly three in 10 (29%) have been asked to stop smoking in the last 12 months by their partner. Meanwhile, 22 percent have fielded requests from parents and children and another 20 percent have been advised by a medical professional to kick the habit.

“Quitting is always the best option, but for those who don’t quit, switching to smoke-free alternatives can deliver smokers huge savings, as well as dramatically reduce the levels of harmful chemicals they are exposed to,” Woolfenden adds.

What The Lifetime Cigarette Expense For Adults Could Go Towards Instead:

  1. Four brand new family cars
  2. Two house deposits
  3. Six weddings
  4. Two round-the-world cruises
  5. Three quarters of a Ferrari Portofino
  6. 5 Rolex Submariners
  7. 15 Hermes Birkin handbags

Why is cigarette smoke so bad for your health?

Cigarette smoking negatively affects nearly every organ in the body and is a leading cause of preventable diseases and premature death. Some of the main reasons why cigarette smoking is harmful include:

  • Toxic chemicals: Cigarettes contain thousands of chemicals, including at least 70 known carcinogens, which are substances that can cause cancer. Some of these toxic chemicals include tar, nicotine, formaldehyde, benzene, and arsenic.
  • Respiratory issues: Smoking damages the respiratory system, leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. It also impairs the lung’s ability to filter out toxins and reduces lung function.
  • Cardiovascular risks: Smoking is a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. It narrows blood vessels, raises blood pressure, increases heart rate, and contributes to the formation of blood clots.
  • Cancer: Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and is also linked to various other cancers, including mouth, throat, esophagus, pancreas, bladder, kidney, cervix, and stomach cancer.
  • Weakened immune system: Smoking impairs the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections and diseases. This increased vulnerability can lead to more frequent and severe illnesses.
  • Reduced fertility: Smoking can reduce fertility in both men and women. In women, it can cause complications during pregnancy, such as premature birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth. In men, it can lead to reduced sperm count and motility.
  • Oral health issues: Smoking contributes to bad breath, tooth discoloration, gum disease, and tooth loss. It also increases the risk of oral cancer.
  • Premature aging: The chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage skin elasticity and cause premature aging, resulting in wrinkles and an overall dull appearance.
  • Secondhand smoke: Smoking not only harms the smoker but also exposes those around them to dangerous secondhand smoke, which contains many of the same harmful chemicals and can cause respiratory problems, heart disease, and lung cancer in nonsmokers.

South West News Service writer Francesca Tuckey contributed to this report.

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