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Cost Of Cigarette Smoking

Cigarettes and Impacts

Cigarette is just a thin cylinder paper filled with a fine cut tobacco leaves for smoking. However this small item is or will be able to give pleasure, relieve stress and some might addict to it.

Tobacco Atlas, 2012 reported about 5.9 trillion cigarettes smoked in 2009. This represents an increase of 13 percent in cigarette consumption in the past decade. China contributed more than 38 percent of the world’s cigarette consumption in that year.

Costs of cigarette smoking can be measured in terms of direct cost and indirect costs. Not only it includes the price of cigarettes that we pay but the future costs to upkeep our health due to smoking.

Direct Costs

Direct cost is out of pocket costs or a monetary cost to smokers and society. For a smoker direct cost is how much money he spends on cigarette. In addition medical costs of treating his illness induced by tobacco is also part of his direct cost.

Currently a 20-a-day smoker of a premium cigarette will spend RM10.00 per day. In one week he will spend RM70.00 and RM3650.00 per year. If smoking habits continue for 20 years, he will spend RM73000.00. Had this amount been saved it can pay a-four years study in undergraduate program at an institution of higher-learning or earned returns on investment in many interest bearing financial instruments.

The cost of a treatment at the hospital due to asthma triggered from smoking cigarette is also considered as direct cost. Hence a total direct cost to this smoker for a year is (RM3650.00 + RM2500) RM6150. Table 1 gives an amount of spending for different number of cigarettes smoke per day.

Table 1: Direct cost from consumption of cigarettes (RM10 per pack)

Number of Cigarettes Smoke Total Expenditure (Ringgit Malaysia)
RM/ day RM/ week RM/ month RM/ year RM/ 20 years
5 2.50 17.50 75.00 912.50 18250.00
10 5.00 35.00 150.00 1825.00 36500.00
15 7.50 52.50 225.00 2737.50 54750.00
20 10.00 70.00 300.00 3650.00 73000.00
25 12.50 87.50 375.00 4562.50 91250.00
30 15.00 105.00 450.00 5475.00 109500.00
35 17.50 122.50 525.00 6387.50 127750.00
40 20.00 140.00 600.00 7300.00 146000.00
45 22.50 157.50 675.00 8212.50 164250.00

At the society level, direct costs are estimated from public and private medical costs of treating cigarette related diseases. In Malaysia, costs of three smoking-related illness diseases; another portion, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases in 2006 has consumed about RM3.5 billion of Malaysian government’s health care (Bernama, 2007).

Indirect Costs

Indirect cost is another component of the total cost of cigarette smoking to smokers and society at large. Indirect cost is defined as the opportunity costs of smoking. Smoker and society have to give up the opportunity to buy other goods since they need the resources to treat smoking related illness. For example, money spent on treating the illness reduces the money available to buy nutritious food.

Indirect cost is more difficult to estimate compared to direct cost. It represents loses for which no monetary value involve but a loss in resources. Indirect costs include the value of time lost due to illness and disability. It also includes loss of productivity, fire damage, and environmental harm from cigarette litter.

The loss of productivity is measured by work-loss day due to smoking related diseases. An indirect cost of loss of productivity is measured on how much a person can earn as paid labor during his absentees. For example, if his wage rate per day is RM200 and he is absents from work for two weeks. Hence his indirect cost of loss of productivity is RM2800. Value of workday losses is also a cost to employer. Indirect cost to employer is therefore work not completed and an additional time to accomplish the job.

Smokers have higher probability of dying from a number of diseases that are related to smoking. They have a shorter life than non-smokers. The result from a 50 year study shows that one-third to two-third of all lifelong cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their habits (R. Doll, 2004).

Therefore the indirect costs are defined as the value of lives lost due to smoking-caused premature death. It is measured by assigning a monetary value to a life. Example, how much money is smoker willing to pay to avoid illness or death.

As a society, we have to pay the price for exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes death and disease in people who don’t smoke. Indirect costs of inhaling on secondhand smoke are medical costs related to secondhand smoke and productivity loss due to suffering from diseases caused by firsthand smoker.

Furthermore, cigarette smoking gives a higher risk of starting fire. Countless fires have originated from a cigarette left lit. A cigarette-caused fire is currently responsible for one of the largest forest fires in Canadian history (AP, 2003).

Cost of picking up cigarette butt litter is also an indirect cost of cigarettes. Who picks up butt litter? Employees of schools, parks, cinemas, grocery stores and others include volunteers who care about the environment. Indirect cost is the costs of the manpower takes to pick up litter.

Besides that, the indirect cost incurred due to the loss of revenue to the government. Tourists may not spend their vacation money to visit a beach or riverside park that is full of litter such as cigarette butt litter.

However there are emotional costs as well. The dependence to cigarette smoking for the addicted can be very restricting. He faces a pressure to quit smoking as he realizes the harmful effects to himself and to his family. It has also been observed that children of smokers are more likely to follow their parental footsteps in respect of this addictive habit.

Studies found that 12 year olds whose parents smoked more than two times a day, is likely to begin smoking cigarettes on a daily basis between the ages of 13 and 21 (UW, 2005).

Family members in general and growing children in particular are more vulnerable to emotional disturbance. However, they get less attention from smokers since they spend more time to smoke.

In conclusion, smoker faces direct and indirect cost of smoking either in financial or emotional costs. A box of cigarette is not just draining your pocket but also your health. The costs of cigarette indirectly impact your family, people around you and society as a whole due to secondhand smoke. Besides the loss of revenue to government may lead to higher tax being imposed on current and future generation.


  1. AP, 2003-08-02. Author: Associated Press
  2. com, 2007. Smoking Related Diseases Burn RM3.5 Billion in Government Health Care. Malaysia. Accessed July 13, 2008.
  3. The Tobacco Atlas “4th Edition” (2012)
  4. Richard Doll, (2004). “ Mortality in Relation to Smoking: 50 years’ observations on male British doctors” BMJ; 328:1519
  5. University of Washington News, 2005-09-28.


Last Reviewed : 7 February 2017
Translator : Dr. Norashidah binti Mohamed Nor
Accreditor : Dr. Sallehudin bin Abu Bakar

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