New research shows that targeting each aspect of your addiction can make quitting easier than it has been in the past. Picking and sticking to a quit date is the first step. Perhaps you may be able to stop for the holidays -- and stick with your commitment for life. Time is money -- that is the mantra in any metropolis. If you smoke, you are burning up both time and legal tender. Have you ever truly examined the dollar costs of this habit? Added up the minutes spent?
shortened your lifespan by 167 days. If each cigarette reduces your lifespan by 11 minutes, in 10 years, smoking a pack a day trims 1 year and 193 days off of your life, according to Health Grade's calculator. However, the American Cancer Society says you lose 13 to 14 years of life, compared with non-smokers. Think your boss is happy when you slip out for a smoke break? According to the Tobacco Public Policy Center, when employees smoke less, productivity goes up. A 2004 study in California determined that the indirect costs due to lost productivity from smoking-related illnesses were $1.5 billion.
Nationally, employees who smoke have almost twice as much lost production time per week than workers who do not smoke -- a cost of $27 billion for employers nationwide.
5,478 cigarettes, or 273 packs! At $7.50 a pack, that totals $2,046.50. Add in extra hair and nail products to hide the smoke damage ($2,500), extra dry cleaning costs and tooth whiteners ($3,000), perfumes and air fresheners ($2,000) for you, your home and car, and we are talking about a conservative $9,546. However, that's not counting the higher health insurance premiums or the fresh coat of paint, and professional carpet and upholstery cleaning you now need because your home is not marketable. For just five ciggys a day, in three years you blow about $10,000, which could have been invested in a 401 (k) or even tucked under your bed if you don't believe in interest-bearing accounts. Click here to see how much you could have saved if you had invested that dough.
Well, there is one bright side to smoking. You now qualify for your own special health insurance. Premiums for smokers are as much as two or three times higher than for nonsmokers. Smokers are spending hundreds more a year for the same coverage, says NAA Life, who offers
Smoker's Insurance. Stop smoking and you'll reduce this extra outflow of cash. Each year, an estimated 438,000 people die as a result of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. The Center for Disease Control says for each of those people, there are 20 more people who are living with an illness attributed to smoking.
Dr. Dawn Elise Wiatrek, Quitline Director of the National Cancer Information Center, a division of the American Cancer Society, says the Department of Health and Human Services is updating its guidelines. "It supports a combination of approaches in quitting smoking," she says. Nicotine replacement therapy coupled with counseling more than
doubles your chances of quitting. Nicotine-filled lozenges, gum, patches and inhalers should do the trick on your physical addition. When used properly, they will help you reduce your nicotine intake without the full impact of nicotine withdrawal. Those symptoms include depression, trouble concentrating, irritability and increased appetite. Nicotine replacement therapies may also have side effects, such as nausea, mouth sours and dizziness, but at least you forego the system-shock of going cold turkey. New drugs like Chantix from Pfizer ( PFE) or Zyban from Glaxosmithkline ( GSK) are also helpful tools. If you embark on an NRT program, it's critical to follow the instructions for weaning off. Any type of nicotine product has the potential for addiction, so it is important to be clear why you are using these products in the first place.
Some programs promote the counseling without the NRT. An esteemed colleague tried to stop smoking a couple of years ago by joining
Smoke Enders. The program touts "no gums; no patches, no shock therapy; no herbal concoctions." The group met weekly to chat and members would gradually replace their favorite brand of cigarettes with ones that had less nicotine or did not taste as good. Sad to say, he smokes throughout the day now -- but he is hooked on ultra-light somethings, which may be just as harmful as the full-strength ones, because people tend to pull extra hard in search of flavor. The program, while it may work for others, clearly did not work for him. Many believe we all die at a preset time anyway, but why not let something completely uncontrollable get you -- it's more noble. why you should quit and how to get help. For one-stop shopping, MedlinePlus -- sponsored by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health -- offers tips from the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, and others. The American Cancer Society has a helpful guide to quitting smoking. In addition, smokers can get help finding a Quitline phone counseling program in their area by calling the ACS at 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345). Telephone quitlines are a convenient new resource, available for free in many states, the site says. The ACS has a calculators to show you how much you smoke long term, and what it costs you.