What Does Smoking Really Cost?

/ 3 min read

What Does Smoking Really Cost?

The cost of a pack of cigarettes is at the highest we have ever seen here in the UK in 2022. Multiply that amount by the number of packs a heavy smoker consumes per week and it soon adds up. Then consider that the people with the highest smoking rates, are almost always the poorest in our society. This is a perfect storm of personal finance that for many is a daily reality.

Besides the financial, the unmitigated health risks of smoking are better understood now than at any point; they are both far-reaching and deadly. You can learn more about nicotine addiction and the health risks of smoking in our guides: Nicotine & Health, and Choosing the Right Alternative.

To tackle the health risks, the UK Gov is aiming to reduce national smoking rates to 5% down from the current 15% by 2030. One of the many routes they intend to take to reach this goal however involves a steady increase to the taxation of tobacco products each year indefinitely.

The costs of smoking to society however go far beyond personal finance, and even personal health.

HRMC Document

Why Tax Isn’t Enough

The UK government has massively increased the cost of tobacco products through rising taxation and massive duties. An estimated £12 billion in smokers income is spent on tobacco in England alone, equivalent to £2000 per smoker.

The tobacco industry has long claimed they compensate society through paying duties, but in reality the 2020/21 excise paid fell just below £10 billion for England. Despite being the highest amount paid to-date, it is still nowhere near the £17.04 billion costs.

Between the business costs, and pressures on institutions like the NHS totalling around £2.4 billion through smoker’s needs for multiple levels of lifelong care and support from young ages, the taxation doesn’t cut it. Experts, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), estimate an additional £14 billion is needed to cover the true costs of care needed to effectively support smokers.


Lost Time and Loss of Earnings

The cost to productivity and in turn the economy at the behest of smoking-related factors in the UK is staggering. Major anti-smoking lobbyists Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) have collected data on this impact. Their most recent findings as of January 2022 revealed that smoking costs society far more than previous estimates.

The results show that the cost of smoking to society totals £17.04 billion each year for England. The previous estimates were £12.5 billion, quite different to the reality, despite still being a staggering figure.

The reasoning behind the new vs earlier estimates is based on a more in-depth review of smoking’s impact on productivity. Generally, smokers are found to be more likely to become ill while of working age. There is a far higher chance that smokers will die while of working age also, further compounding the economic loss to the tune of £13.2 billion.

According to recent government reports, users of e-liquids and vaping devices should expect to be able to enjoy more consistent working and therefore wages, due to the greatly reduced comparative risk.

Research carried out by Landman Economics (2020) and presented by ASH found that: “smoking has a significant negative impact on individual earnings and employment prospects, with long-term smokers being 7.5% less likely to be employed than non-smokers and smokers earning, on average, 6.8% less than non-smokers.” The cumulative impact of these effects across the UK amounts to £14.1bn lost in income to smokers every year.

While technically this means as an employer you stand to pay out less per annum for a smoker who has had medical leave, you are paying the price in productivity. Even when not on sick-leave, smokers will often require more breaks than a non-smoker to practice the habit, further compounding the issue.

If you are a smoker looking to quit and avoid the issues we have just discussed, EDGE would like to help – head over to our Switch With EDGE Area to learn everything you need to know about all your options (not just vaping!) and make an informed decision that truly meets your needs. If you want to try vaping however, and know what you want, then why not save time and money by starting an ultra-flexible EDGE Subscription.