Need some motivation to kick the smoking habit? A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine reported that, on average, smoking knocks 10 years off your life. For those destined to live to 100 like the late comedian George Burns, who was a walking cigar chimney, 10 years shy of the century mark may be no big deal.
However, the life expectancy of the average American is closer to 78, with men cashing in their chips about five years ahead of women. This means that the typical smoker is knocking on death’s door at age 68, just one year beyond the expected retirement age in the United States. So you smoke your way through your career, then get a full year to work through the items in your bucket list before checking into your personal horizontal phone booth.
That’s assuming that you haven’t already been stricken by cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, or any of several smoking-related cancers. That there is a positive correlation between smoking and contracting smoking-related diseases, and a negative correlation between smoking and good health in your twilight years, is painfully obvious.
Still unconvinced? Here’s another argument in favor of dropping the cancer sticks. Money. The smoker who quits early can invest the money he would have otherwise spent on cigarettes.
Let’s say you have a pack-a-day habit. That translates into a monthly expense of $200. Over a year, that’s $1,200, which could be put towards vacations, hobbies, education funds, or retirement nest eggs.
In fact, now that the smoker has quit smoking, he can expect to live beyond 68, enjoying many more years in retirement. More years means more income is required. Now say you quit smoking at age 30, but you keep investing $200 per month in a savings vehicle that pays a modest 5 percent per year. Over 35 years you will have invested $84,000, which is now worth over $225,000 after accounting for interest. Set this as an annuity at the same interest rate, and you now have an additional $1,500 per month for the next 20 years to supplement your pension.
For those who believe that they’ve been smoking too long to quit now, or that the thought of diminished quality of life is inconsequential, here’s more food for thought. Whether you protect your health or not is a matter of concern not only to you but to your loved ones.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who are exposed to secondhand smoke have increased rates of lung cancer, coronary heart disease and other health problems compared to those who live in smoke-free environments. Put bluntly, exposing your family members to your puffs is killing them too.
Buying the big farm in the sky after retirement age is one thing, but dying in one’s prime, with dependents and other loved ones still in need of their spouse or parent, is downright selfish and irresponsible. Barb Tarbox, a Canadian anti-smoking advocate with an ironic surname, started smoking at age 11. After being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, Barb began visiting local schools to warn children about the dangers of smoking.
She showed them her bald head, jutting bones, and blackened skin due to tissue death, the combined effects of decades of smoking and multiple rounds of chemotherapy. In her last days, she literally wasted away before the eyes of her young audience – only 85 pounds on a 6-foot frame. She passed away at the age of 42, a full three decades under the average life expectancy, leaving behind her husband and a young daughter.
Despite the sobering statistics, there is a reassuring one. In 1965, more than two out of every five people called themselves smokers. Today, that statistic is down to one out of every five. There is a growing movement towards a non-smoking culture as smoking is legislated out of restaurants and playgrounds, and landlords boldly seek tenants with the words: clean, no pets, no smoking.