Quit smoking, save money

According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2003/04 more than a quarter of adults are smokers, a figure which was the same the year before. So that's around 13 million adults and a scary un-recorded number of under-16s hooked on nicotine. While men are still more likely than women to smoke cigarettes, the gap has narrowed. Cigarette smoking is still more common among adults aged 20 to 34 than other age groups.

At £5 per packet, you can do your own maths on how many designer suits/tropical holidays you could buy over a lifetime of smoking. So let's get more realistic. How about slicing £40,000 of interest off your 25-year £100,000 repayment mortgage. You could pay the loan back eight years early, according to research by brokers Charcol. 'When smokers look at what quitting can do to their finances it may provide that added incentive to finally stub out the fags,' explains Charcol's Elliot Nathan. 'A 20-a-day smoker can save £1,770 a year by giving up which, in itself, is incentive enough. Yet when you look at what overpaying by this amount can do to a mortgage, it is even more of an enticement,' he says.

By giving up five packets of cigarettes a month, the extra cash could boost your baby's Child Trust Fund to nearly £11,000 by the time they reach 18. Supermarket chain ASDA and Engage Mutual Assurance are urging smoking parents to invest in their child's future because most new parents give up smoking anyway. They estimate that even £10 per month put into an equity based Child Trust Fund could see a return of £4,890 when the fund matures.

One of the biggest ways to save when you stop smoking is, unsurprisingly, on life insurance and critical illness cover. Current independent best buy tables from Moneyfacts show that £100,000 of life cover for a 35-year old over 20 years would cost from £15.00 per month for a male smoker but just £8.50 per month for a male non-smoker. The monthly payments for female smokers start at £12.10, falling to £7.10 for non-smokers. What many people don't realise is that if you've not smoked for a year most insurers will consider you count a non-smoker and you can start saving money.

Insuresupermarket's Richard Mason says it's worth checking with your insurer as soon as you give up in case they can provide any immediate benefits or discounts. 'At the very least, tell your current insurer that you are no longer a smoker, but better still, shop around to see if you can improve on your premium,' he urges. 'Our research shows the best deal for you as an ex-smoker may not come from your current provider.'

Of the 4.7 million people that have quit smoking during the last five years only a third have informed their life insurance company, according to Sainsbury’s Bank Life Insurance. The bank believes that these ex-smokers could be collectively wasting at least £69 million per year by not updating their policy to reflect their new non-smoker status.

You could also save money on insurance claims. More than half of all fire claims in the home are caused by cigarette related incidents say Churchill Insurance. Their research found the average claim was £471 and usually related to burnt sofas, carpets or fires started by cigarette ends in dustbins. Smoker-related claims are four times more common than the second biggest cause of fires - chip pans, at 13%. The third biggest source is electrical appliances, which account for 12%.

'These incidents are more likely to happen in the evening or at night as many accidents are sleep related,' says Churchill's Greg Dawson. 'Smokers need to refrain from smoking in bed or in any situation where they are likely to fall asleep'. Government figures also deliver an even starker warning that fires started by cigarettes kill more people than any other kind of fire - accounting for one third of all fatal fires in the home.

The price of a packet of cigarettes has more than tripled over the last 15 years. This means that the cost of smoking has increased by more than any other commodity - rising by an incredible 204% since 1989 on the Retail Price Index, according to the Halifax. Only personal services such as dentists' charges came close with an increase of 164%. In contrast, the price of electrical goods such as computers has fallen by 74% in the same period. Someone, somewhere is making a ton of money out of smokers.
Okay, save money. But if saving your life and not offending others, not to mention consideration of the health of your children weren't grounds enough for stopping smoking then why should a bit of money?
I stopped five years ago after calculating that I spent over £50 a week on products that I burnt. I haven't saved any money, but now I spend it on things that don't kill me. Like booze. And hamburgers. (Only joking :wink: )

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