Kiss me, I don’t smoke (EIGHTEEN years and counting!).

Welcome back! This is one of the two posts I do a year (the other being my annual Oscar picks). Over the years this post has migrated from site to site, most recently arriving here at Medium last year. I suppose next year I’ll have to do it in VR or something.

Anywho, if you’re new to these, I used to be an extremely heavy smoker and every year on October 21st (or thereabouts — some years life has gotten in the way of the actual date) I celebrate the day I quit. And as part of that celebration, I calculate how much money I would have spent had I kept smoking (spoiler: it’s a lot).

Originally I did this to illustrate how quickly all those cigarettes added up, but to be honest, once you reach a certain threshold, it’s no longer shocking. I mean, I went from zero to $20,000 very quickly. I imagine it’s gonna be a few more years before I hit another jaw-dropping number. But don’t worry, I’m still committed to the numbers.

Speaking of which…now comes the math!

As I have now lived in three different states (NY, CA and since 2010, MD), this has gotten complicated. I used to smoke on average 1.75 packs a day (most days were 1.5, many were 2, and nights when I went drinking — which was often in those beer-soaked days of youth — I’d hit 2.5). All told, had I not quit, I would have sucked down just over 11,506 packs, or 230,125 individual cigarettes.

When I quit in 1999, I lived in New York City, where I was for eight of these twelve years. Because of all of the moves, I’ve locked off my NYC smoking costs at $35,757.75, using the $7 a pack average in New York during that time. I’ve also locked off the subsequent two years in California at $5,740.88, using what was then a $4.50 a pack average. Those numbers are very dated — New York is now over $14 on average and California is $7.

Here in Maryland, the average is $7.93. That’s seven years with no leap days, plus 2012 and 2016 having extra days, so 102,270 individual cigarettes/ 5113.5 packs for a total of $40,550.06.

That means that had I not quit smoking, since 1999, I would have spent…

(Drumroll please)


That’s over EIGHTY TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS! And that’s assuming the old prices in New York and California!

If you’re thinking of quitting, both or QuitNet are good places to start. Also try reading up on the subject: CDC’s Health Effects of Tobacco Smoking is a good place to start, as is the extremely unpleasant How Does Your Body Digest a Cigarette? over at HowStuffWorks.

I quit the old fashioned way, but there are now all kinds of apps that can help you quit! I won’t pretend to know anything about them, but this article has some recommendations.

If you smoke, you should stop. It’s gross, it makes you smell bad, it ruins your clothes, it turns your teeth and fingers yellow, and it’s really, really bad for you. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. It’s bad for you, it’s bad for those around you, and it costs a TON of money. If I can do it, so can you.

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