What could one do with £4,745? A new car or deposit on a house, or at least a sizeable chunk of cash towards them? A holiday? A reduction of debts? It’s believed the average smoker puffs on 13 cigarettes per day equating to that amount each year.
That’s nearly £5,000 that has literally gone up in smoke; a habit that gives the user no advantages but plenty of ‘drawbacks’. And prices will probably continue to rise.
So it is perhaps no surprise that many smokers are swapping to e-cigs, in the belief that the lower nicotine and chemical levels provide a healthier alternative to the 4,000 chemicals contained in normal cigarettes. It is estimated that sales of e-cigs will be worth £339m in the UK by 2015 as smokers revert to a cheaper and hopefully safer alternative, with less social stigma.
Smoking e-cigarettes, otherwise known as vaping, uses cartridges which are equivalent to a pack of cigarettes to produce a watery mist rather than smoke created by the heat of an e-liquid. The hand-to-mouth action is replicated, and an LED light even somewhat recreates the light of a burning tip.
As well as a perception of increased health benefits, the other selling point is that e-cigarettes from companies such as Phoenix Eliquid can be much cheaper. An e-cig starter kit consisting of a battery, charger and cartridges might cost from £5 to £30, but once this is purchased the costs start to tumble in comparison.
According to the Tobacco Manufacturers Association the average cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes is £8.47, but e-cigs that may pack the same punch as an entire packet of cigarettes generally cost several pounds less. Indeed, one that launched last year cost just £1.
Many smokers may convert gradually and still retain normal cigarettes with a nominal financial benefit. However, if the total conversion is made the equivalent saving would be more than £900 a year based on an average e-cig cartridge cost of around £6.
Additionally one may save money on ashtrays, lighters, carpet cleaning, washing clothes, and other costs which are a by-product of smoking.
You can even order the cartridges by post, or get reductions on refills by signing up to loyalty schemes.
There are also, potentially, benefits in a circular way through cuts in the money needed to cope with the broader issues related to smoking. Public Health England estimates that smoking costs the UK economy £13bn a year and 11 million days of productivity, and would obviously be eager to reduce this.
With that in mind, the government body has created Stoptober, an annual campaign which aims to convince smokers to attempt to give up the cigarettes for one month. Smokers who do so are five times more likely to stop permanently.
New free resources such as a stop smoking pack and an app were made available, and a host of celebrities including Paddy McGuinness and Al Murray backed the campaign. It was also endorsed by 250 companies and organisations such as Vodafone, Ford, Asda, The British Army and many more.
For their part e- cig companies have created a ‘Swaptober’ modification.
And as well as the monetary costs there are social benefits, elegantly described in this Guardian article which describes how the e-cig has evolved from a quirk, to a trend, to a necessity, for many smokers. The author says it has saved her life, and it has no doubt saved her purse some damage as well.