To smoke or not to smoke: What is the cost?
April 6, 1997
Web posted at: 8:38 p.m. EDT (0038 GMT)
In this story:
From Correspondent Valerie Morris
NEW YORK (CNN) -- About a third of the estimated 48 million
adult smokers in the United States try to quit each year. But
only about 10 percent actually succeed in kicking the habit
for a year or more.
If news about health risks isn't sufficiently motivating the
other 90 percent, perhaps a careful look inside their wallets
The average American smoker puffs more than a pack of
cigarettes a day, spending $750 to $1,000 a year just on
smokes. Also, smoking-related illnesses cost the U.S. economy
$97 billion annually in health care and lost worker
Quitting, on the other hand, is much less expensive.
Cold turkey cheapest but hardest
Giving up tobacco cold turkey is the cheapest way to go and
the most common. But it is also the hardest, with only an 8
percent success rate.
"By 2 o'clock in the afternoon, I was just getting really
anxious and irritable," says former smoker Wendy Schechter of
her cold turkey experience. "I started fighting with my
husband and my friends. It was really painful."
Schechter found help with a nicotine patch, which replaces
the agent in cigarettes that quitting smokers so crave. Over-
the-counter nicotine substitutes, designed to wean smokers
away from their habit within 12 weeks, cost between $180 and
But some experts warn that using a nicotine substitute alone
won't do the trick.
Behavior modification increases success
"The patch or the gum, by themselves, aren't all that
effective," says John Garrison, managing director of the
American Lung Association. "You've got maybe a 15 percent
chance of success that way."
"You must also deal with behavior modification, so when you
combine the patch with freedom-from-smoking programs, such as
the American Lung Association's, you then have a better than
30 percent chance of quitting smoking," Garrison says.
The association's group program costs between $65 and $150.
Other behavior therapy programs, such as Smoke Enders, can
run from $150 to $320.
"I would definitely recommend Smoke Enders," says former
smoker James Sears. "It was something that was able to lessen
my nicotine intake, so by the cutoff time, it was rather easy
First-day abstinence key to success
In calculating the cost of quitting, keep in mind that for
many people, it may take more than one try to give up
A recent study at Duke University showed that the success or
failure of an attempt to quit may be determined on the first
day. Smokers who abstain completely on day one are 10 times
more likely to remain smoke-free for six months than those
who light up even just one or two cigarettes.
If the method of quitting first selected doesn't seem to be
working, experts say give it up and try another approach,
rather than continue through an entire course of treatment.
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