Can you save money, in the short-term, by quitting cigarettes?

Most people, when you ask them why they won't quit smoking, simply stare at you like you've asked them to smother their grandmom with a dead cat. Some of them, however, say, "It costs MORE money to quit than it does to keep smoking!"

Many of us believe that, but has anyone ever really "done the numbers"? We all know that in the long-run, a smoker could save buckets of the green by kicking the habit. Unfortunately, we're a species of short-term, instant-gratification man-children. We often cling to these insane notions with vice-like grips, simply because we don't want to do anything that will give us rewards "down the road."

You could also rationalize it like this: I don't have hundreds of dollars to spend on the gum / the patch right now, but I do have $10 in my pocket to buy a pack of smokes.

Money, in small amounts, over time, somehow doesn't really add up to a lot of money.

But, back to the part where quitting equates to "long term savings." We decided to crunch the numbers and see exactly how long someone would need to stay smoke-free to "break even" monetarily.

The numbers are quite surprising. Nicorette Gum
This method, really, just replaces one oral fixation with another. Instead of reaching for that pack of tobacco, you reach for a pack of gum. The gum releases the same nerve-calming nicotine that a cigarette does, but without all the toxins. (Unless you consider nicotine a toxin, I guess ...)

The cornerstone of this method is the Nicorette program. You start out the first couple weeks chewing a lot of gum (they say you are to chew at least nine pieces a day) and slowly ween yourself off the gum, over 12 weeks.

Now, since their program is based on ranges of time between pieces, for our purposes, we'll take the median (so, if they suggest that week one you chew one piece every 1 to 2 hours, I'll average that out to be one piece every 1.5 hours) for simplicity sake.

Here's how the numbers work:

Over the course of the 12 weeks (assuming you sleep 8 hours a day), by following the program you'll be chewing 616 pieces of gum. (That's 1 piece every 1.5 hours for the first 6 weeks, one piece every 3 hours for the next three weeks, and one piece every 6 hours for the last three weeks.)

To get this many pieces, you'd have to buy three 170-count boxes, which retail for about $68 a box and one 100-count box, which retails for around $49. A total of $253 for 12 weeks.

In that same amount of time, if you were to continue smoking, a 1/2-pack-a-day smoker (from a big city, with lots of taxes ... like New York) would spend $399; a pack-a-day smoker would spend $798. In a city in a more tobacco-friendly state (where you pay far less for a pack) a 1/2-pack-a-day smoker would spend $168; a pack-a-day smoker would spend $336. Nicoderm CQ ("The Patch")
Since Nicoderm CQ's program is different based on how much you smoke (Nicorette's program only differs in the strength of gum you buy, not how much you use) we'll break this section into two parts:

1/2-pack-a-day (or less) smokers
For this type of smoker, it's an eight-week program. Over that time, you'll buy two Step 2 3-week kits for about $60 each, and a Step 3 2-week kit for around $42 — a total of $162.

Pack-a-day (or more) smokers
For this type of smoker, it's a 10-week program. Over that time, you'll buy two Step 1 3-week kits for around $68, one Step 2 2-week kits for about $51 each, and one Step 3 2-week kit for around $42 — a total of $229.

In that same amount of time a 1/2-pack-a-day smoker (from a big city) would have spent $266; a pack-a-day smoker $665. In places where you pay far less for a pack, a 1/2-pack-a-day smoker would have spent $112; a pack-a-day smoker would spend $280. As you can see, the only way you don't start saving money right away by quitting is if you're a light smoker who lives in a "tobacco friendly" state.

In those cases, you'd be spending $85 more on gum or $117 more on the patch. Of course, that's only over the same period of time as the quitting program. Once you've kicked the habit, you start saving money hand-over-fist.

For the rest of you smokers, the numbers kinda make it seem worth it to quit, don't they? So, stop putting money in the pocket of "big tobacco" and ... er ... well ... put it into big pharma's, I guess! (But only for a while.)

Of course, there is always the "free" alternative of "cold turkey." But the hidden cost there is the possibility that you are one of the few that will go nuts on a nic-fix and either get into a fight with your girlfriend / spouse and say things that can't be un-said, or, frustrated, you wind up breaking that precious and rare Ming dynasty vase that you own. Disastrous.

Jeff Somogyi is dealnews' Media Editor. He's contemplating quitting ... or moving to the south. ($4 a pack?!? WTH?!)

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


Leave a comment!

or Register