How Much Does Your Smoking Habit Actually Cost?


Smoking is a guilty pleasure many of us may admit to. There is nothing quite like a drawn-out puff after a stressful hour at work. Besides, lighting up affords us a whiff of quiet luxury for cheap.

Or does it?

You might be quick to point out that a cigarette stick retails for about P5 a piece — that’s cheap, right?

But the Philippine government enacted a tax hike in 2012 raising the price of tobacco by as much as P25 per pack. This amount almost doubles the previous retail price and if you are one of those who completes breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the meriendas in between with a quick smoke, the added expense translates to an extra P3 to P6.25 a day.

Well, that doesn’t sound so bad.

It is easy to shrug off the difference a couple of pesos makes. But once you start adding up your daily costs, it may make you want to think twice before lighting up your next cigarette. If you smoke around 10 sticks a day, you basically spend P1,500 a month or a total of P18,250 a year on cigarettes. For minimum wage earners in Metro Manila, this means you spend about 14% of your monthly or annual income on cigarettes!

Number of cigarette sticks smoked daily

Total cost of cigarettes smoked in one year (@1 stick = P3 – P5)

Estimated cost of cigarettes smoked in 30 years*

1 to 5 sticks

P1,095 – P9,125

P32,850 – P273,750

6 to 10 sticks

P6,570 – P18,250

P197,100 – P547,500

11 to 15 sticks

P12,045 – P27,375

P361,350 – P821,250

16 to 20 sticks

P17,520 – P36,500

P525,600 – P1,095,000

21 sticks or more

P22,995 and above

P689,850 and above

* Inflation and price variation not included in the computation

While cigarette sales from the stores and streets have dropped by a third to 3.9 million packs in 2014, smoking is still prevalent among adults. A 2014 Social Weather Stations survey revealed that instead of cutting back on tobacco, almost half or 45% of smokers have switched to a cheaper brand to combat the price increase. So by and large, people haven’t really quit smoking.

Smoking will make you sick, and it will cost you money.

Years of continued tobacco consumption will eventually take its toll on you. Experts have warned the public that smoking increases the risk of developing health conditions, some of which are fatal. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that “smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and affects a person’s overall health.”

Health risks caused by smoking

Likelihood to develop the disease compared to non-smokers

Lung cancer


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

increased risk

Coronary heart disease (heart attack)


Cerebrovascular disease, (stroke)


Type 2 diabetes


Birth complications for pregnant women, and decreased fertility for men

increased risk

Broken bones

increased risk

Deformed and painful joints (rheumatoid arthritis)

increased risk

Source: United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

We’re not just talking about your medical health, it’ll start to affect your financial health too! The effects of smoking will add up and, in time, so will the medical bills.

Depending on various factors such as the type of disease, treatment advised by the doctor, and severity of the case, you can spend anywhere from P5,000 to more than P1 million in health care.

Majority of these costs will come from hospitalization, maintenance medicines, clinic visits, diagnostics and tests, aside from specific treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.

Medical care

Projected cost per person*


from P700 to P2,500 per day

Maintenance medicines

about P1,000 a week

Clinic visits

around P600 per session

Diagnostics and tests

P500 to P20,000 per procedure


up to P1 million


about P30,000-P100,000 per session

*Based on estimates by health experts 

Aside from the medical costs, you also lose money when you miss out on work, rendered unable to work while at an employable age, or worst of all, die early from an illness caused by smoking. Looking from a worker’s standpoint, if you miss work for 10 days while undergoing treatment or recovery, you lose at least P4,810 (based on the current minimum wage of P481 per day). But what if you suffer a stroke which immobilizes you at 55? You stand to lose P126,984 a year or a total of P634,920 for five years worth of wages.

It’s easy to overlook of the actual price of smoking, especially when you deal with loose change. But your daily expenses will quickly add up. And future expenses caused by the habit will crop up much sooner than you expect. That P5 stick now could mean P1 million in treatments. Smoking is a luxury that certainly isn’t cheap.


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