5.5 trillion reasons to give up smoking

Reasons to quit smoking

This started as a footnote to trends about New Year Resolutions in my Daily Post, and about a thousand words later, it made sense to give this article its own page here.

What was your New Year’s Resolution? To diet? To Exercise more? To give up something?

Take smoking; you don’t simply stop; you need to find strong reasons and methods to give up and stick to this resolution.

Living longer and reducing the real risk of several forms of cancer are all good advice but not tangible.

You’ll begin to get your sense of smell back, too; something else smoking takes from you and, in doing so, improves your sense of taste. Everything you eat will taste better (or worse and make you eat better, so a win there too.)

You can add fresher breath, less stained fingers, and not having everything you own and wear reeking are persuasive reasons, too, I’d have thought. Trust me on this, as any no-smoker will tell you if honest enough, virtually everything in a smoker’s house absolutely stinks of cigarette smoke – right down to the lovingly wrapped paper and through to the gift inside you sent out as presents at Christmas.

I could have been hardcore and used pictures with gangrene or mouth and throat cancer and worse as shock tactics, but to be honest, I’m squeamish, and I was feeling nauseous just looking at the thumbnail-size images. If manufacturers used images of people with their faces rotting away from cancer on their packets instead of a bland, if stark, warning, more people would hesitate before lifting a cig to their lips. Or maybe not; maybe they think it only happens to other people. If that sort of deterrent works for you though, by all means, look.

man smoking
{ Image of a man smoking from Pixabay, by Kristina }

Again, the above are good reasons to stop what is frankly a filthy addiction fostered by the utterly uncaring tobacco industry. Yes, I’m as biased as any lifelong non-smoker can be, but even from being a child in the 60s, it struck me as a ridiculous thing to do. We had chimneys to get the coal smoke out of the house and paid sweeps to clean the soot – and here are your parents paying to suck it into their lungs.

My mum – who was a qualified nurse – had a series of heart attacks and cancer and still smokes. A wake-up call, you’d think, but no. My dad’s attitude was something like, "I’m so stressed that smoking is killing us I need a cigarette…" You can’t argue with that mentality, and if that’s you, no amount of New Year wishing is going to make you stop.

So, if you are serious about stopping smoking, you need something to stop you. A reason, an incentive, a constant reminder when you reach for them. I don’t smoke, as I say, but I do have chronic, life-long depression and OCD, so I know all about addictions. You need to find the one, overriding reason or person for whom you will change, whether that person is yourself, your children, another loved one, or some material focus.

Find something you are serious about and passionate about. Smoking is a habit as much as an addiction; it can be kicked with the right willpower and motivation. In the UK certainly, smoking is expensive, so find something to use the money better. Find something else to occupy your mind, whether cleaning the bathroom, doing sudoku or taking your pet ferret for a walk around the backyard.

Please find it and stick to it every hour of every day. Every time you reach for a cigarette or feel a compelling urge to go to the local off-license for a pack, put a fiver or even a tenner in a jar. And every week, put all the money from the jar into a savings account, one with a log book and no other access.

At the minute (and it will only rise), a pack of 20 is around £7.50 or more a pack, so every time you light up, you are burning – throwing away around 40p. If you smoke just one less a day, that’s £146 in your pocket by the following New Years’ Eve.

You can do the maths on your own daily habit, but here are a few thoughts:

Struggling to meet the bills, resorting to ‘payday loans‘ to manage, then getting in a state because of the 1,000% interest? And still, you smoke!? If you cut back by 5 a day and use the money to clear your debts, that’s £60 a month took off the bill. Once you clear it, you can get into the habit of saving instead of burning your money.

Maybe you are a heavier smoker, 20 a day or more? Let’s go with 20 a day. Today (New Year’s Day or whenever you read this), you stop, and every day, instead of buying cigarettes, bank it. Instead of driving to the shops, walk to the building society and deposit £10. I say a tenner because it’s never just £7.77 for the cigs; you’ll get something else while you are there to ‘justify’ going out, paper, chocolates, a can of pop. And every time you do, when you get home, look hard at the balance…

A day, £10
A week later £70
A month without, and it’s looking more like it at over £200
By the following year, it over £3,500

Every time you go to the light or, you get the urge to accept ‘just one’ from some git that hates the fact you’ve given up and they can’t, think of that lump sum and how it can change your life.

If you really want to better your life, give up 20 a day and start a degree to take your mind off them. It’s currently £15,500 for a decent, named honours degree from the OU. You’d have to give up 40,000 smokes to pay for it, but that’s a small price to pay. Sorry, did you choke? Spreading it over 6 years of a part-time course, that’s 18 a day. Really, sit back and think about it for a moment. In 6 years, you can either burn a wodge of over 15 thousand pounds – or you can get a B.Sc honours degree – which is the more intelligent option?

The degree was just my thought; I’m sure you’ll have your own ideas of what you can do with an extra £300 a month, £3,500 extra in your bank at year-end. Buy a new car, a holiday, pay the mortgage, buy a rare antique or painting.

I went looking for prices and instead found this on the BBC: Euro MPs have voted to ban the sale of packs of 10 cigarettes. Officially one of the reasons given is, "The health campaigners describe packets of 10 as ‘kiddy packs’ because they argue they are more affordable out-of-pocket money" You can look at all the ins and out of the laws and reasoning, but my first thought is this:

In making the minimum pack size 20’s, they want you to finish the pack. They – the entire tobacco industry and the governments raking in billions in tax from them – can’t afford for you to stop smoking. They might – now – have a legal requirement to advise you of the risk, but by god, they want you to ignore the risk and smoke, smoke, smoke!

Here’s a little wake-up call from the annual profits report from one of the biggest of cigarette groups, British American Tobacco:

Key Group statistics 2012

  • Gross turnover (including duty, excise and other taxes) :
    £45,872 million
  • Revenue (after deducting duty, excise and other taxes) :
    £15,190 million
  • Profit from operations :
    £5,412 million
  • Adjusted profit from operations* :
    £5,970 million
  • Global cigarette volumes :
    694 billion (of 5.5 trillion market ~ Paul)

  • Payments to governments (tax paid including excise taxes) :
    £32,170 million
  • Shareholders (combined UK and South African registers):
  • Cite : BAT Group (link to facts dead)
  • See also British American Tobacco report on the global tobacco market [dead link]:
    The global tobacco industry produces around 5.5 trillion cigarettes a year.

Grossly rounding up here, but just 4 companies control 45% of a £500 billion a year industry with as many as a million or more shareholders, generating billions in profits and paying as much as £300 billion a year in tax. That’s just the tax the tobacco companies pay, without additional taxes down the chain up to the massive surcharge at the till. The world’s government raise perhaps half a trillion pound a year from smokers – that’s an educated guesstimate, but just one company, from their own annual report – in 2012 paid over £32 billion in tax. Do you really think for a second that with money like this involved, they aren’t happy to kill you with their products?

Via: World Lung Foundation (link to release paper now dead)

  • In 2010, tobacco industry’s profit was equivalent to US$6,000 for each death caused by tobacco.
  • 2011: ‘Estimates U.S. $35 Billion Tobacco Industry Profits and Almost 6 Million Annual Deaths’
  • Since the 1st Tobacco Atlas in 2002, almost 50 million people have died from tobacco.
  • 43 trillion cigarettes have been smoked in the last decade.
    (Sales are now at 5.5 trillion a year)
  • Tobacco is responsible for more than 15% of all male deaths and 7% of female deaths
  • If trends continue, one billion people will die from tobacco use and exposure during the 21st century – one person every six seconds.

Tobacco Industry Profits Greater Than Ever
According to The Tobacco Atlas, estimates of revenues from the global tobacco industry likely approach half a trillion U.S. dollars annually. In 2010, the combined profits of the six leading tobacco companies were U.S. $35.1 billion, equal to the combined profits of Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and McDonald’s in the same year. If Big Tobacco were a country, it would have the gross domestic product (GDP) of countries like Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Venezuela.

cost of smoking
{ The true cost of smoking }

The true cost of smoking without considering health reasons. The ads are to focus your attention on the price you pay. 40p each – but the shops are more than happy to sell you them in multiples of 200 a time at £80 or more a carton.

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