Aussies watch $7.4bn go up in smoke

AUSTRALIAN smokers burn a collective $7.4 billion hole in their pockets every year to sustain their habit.
The nation’s average smoker lights up 14marlboro cigaretts a day, research shows, and this cost over the year totals more than $2500.

The poll by Galaxy Research also shows smokers lose a significant amount of productive time – as nipping out for ciggie adds up to 17 days over the year.

“Time expenditure is a great example of how smoking affects the quality of life of more than just the smoker,” said Newcastle-based psychiatrist and addiction expert Dr Allan White.

“Seventeen days or 408 hours per person smoking every year is time that could be spent with family and friends – something that can be hard to come by given many peoples’ fast paced lifestyles.”

The poll of 1100 randomly selected people was conducted in late February, when it found nearly one in five (18 per cent) Australians rated themselves as smokers.

Two-thirds of these people said they were regular smokers.

The remaining third rated themselves as social or “occasional” smokers – but many were still smoking up to six cigarettes daily.

The poll also found Australia’s 2.9 million smokers intended to make cost savings in other areas before cutting back on cigarettes during the economic slowdown.

In times of financial stress, many smokers nominated entertainment (61 per cent) and clothing (59 per cent) as areas to cut their spending before smoking (47 per cent).

“The reality is that every cigarettes purchased is money that goes up in smoke,” Dr White said.

“Smoking causes serious damage to your body as well as also causing damage to the content of your wallet.”

By sex, 22 per cent of men in the study considered themselves social or regular smokers, consuming on average 16.2 cigarettes daily.

Fewer women were smokers (15 per cent) and they also smoked fewer cigarettes (11.8 daily average).

The poll also compared smoking rates across the states.

South Australia emerged as having the highest smoking rate, with 25 per cent of the population considered to be regular or social smokers.

Queensland was the lowest at just 14 per cent, with WA and Victoria/Tasmania tied on 17 per and NSW coming in at 19 per cent.

Almost 30 per cent of younger people aged 18 to 24 years were smokers but older Australians are not off the hook.

While they were the least likely age group to smoke at just 10 per cent of those over 50, older smokers consumed the most cigarettes (an average of 16.8 daily).

“It is important to remember … due to the highly addictive nature of nicotine, quitting is a serious challenge to many smokers,” Dr White said.

“For advice on what options are available to help quit, Australian smokers should visit a GP today to talk about available strategies.”

The study, commissioned by pharmaceutical company Pfizer Australia, also found one in five smokers were parents and these people smoked less on average than smokers without children.

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