Prices will only go up, so quit smoking now

Did you read last week’s news about women and smoking and how if you quit now, even after years of smoking, you could dramatically reduce your risk of premature death and all kinds of awful debilitating diseases that are attributed to smoking?

It should be good news for smokers to see this well-publicized study, which said that if you quit before age 30, you could avoid as much as 97 percent of the risk, and if you quit before 40, you could avoid 90 percent. Even people in their 50s would improve their odds for good health and longer life if they stop, the study indicated.

As a former serious smoker who kicked the habit before I turned 30 — one of the hardest things I’ve done, mind you — this is good news to be sure.

Getting a generous do-over like this on the health front should definitely be a strong incentive to quit, but I know first hand how hard it is to beat this habit. So I thought maybe adding a financial incentive to the equation might give your quitting efforts a boost.

Just think about how much money you’ll save by not buying cigs.

Let me do a little math for you: A pack of smokes from a nearby market last week was $5.43 plus sales tax, making it ring up at $5.93 for one little ol’ pack.

If you smoke a pack a day for a year, that is $2,164.45 a year. And then think about 10 years of smoking and you are looking at $21,644 that is literally going up in smoke — maybe more if the per-pack price goes up, which I predict it will.

That is a lot of money. A lot of money that you could use for something else. Think about it.

I’m convinced a lot of people would like to quit, but it is hard to do. In fact, the Metro Health Department numbers show that there are 963,383 current smokers in Tennessee, and of those, 60.8 percent said they had stopped smoking for a day or longer in the last year because they were trying to quit .

I know quitting is tough, but wanting to stop is the first step, and I hope that these additional health and financial incentives can light a fire under lots of smokers to go smoke-free.

Stay cheap and smoke-free, indeed! I know I could put that $21,644 to good use.

Reach Ms. Cheap at 615-259-8282 or mscheap@tennessean.com

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