The Cost of Smoking

I’m tired of seeing all these ineffective stop smoking campaigns. I smoked for 22 years and have been smoke free for over 5 years now. Ever hear the saying “Nobody hates a smoker more than an ex-smoker?” Well it’s true. And coming from an ex-smoker I’d have to say these commercials are written by people that do not understand smoking. They over exaggerate and stereotype trying to scare the youth into conformity when all they really do is make children curious about what the big deal is. Why is smoking so taboo? Don’t just show an elderly lady smoking out of her stoma, show a digital re-creation of the lady as a little girl smoking and age progress her to her death bed. Show missed opportunities and relationships. Show all the disposable income gone up in smoke. Have you seen the movie Gemini Man starring Will Smith. They did a great job recreating younger versions of himself. Do that for smoking commercials!


I went in to get a physical the other day for my job and they took an x-ray of my lungs. The tech pointed out that my lungs are oversized. They are about 125% larger than they should be. He said it’s from smoking. I feel healthier, look better, smell and taste amazing scents, but after 22 years of smoking, my lungs are not going to recover back to their original size. My breathing has improved and I no longer get winded from climbing stairs, but in the back of my mind, I stay worried that the damage is already done. I no longer have a smokers hack or constantly clear my throat. My lungs don’t burn or feel congested, and my skin is no longer yellow tinted. I don’t cough up a storm in the mornings. And the best health benefit that doesn’t even benefit me as much as others, is that I don’t smell awful (and smokers, yes you all smell awful to non-smokers). You ever get a dirty look at the check out counter? It’s probably not your appearance, it’s cause you smell foul.

WHO claims that Heart Disease and Diabetes are the number one and two causes of death worldwide. If you have diabetes and you smoke, I really feel sorry for you. You’re punching your own clock double, or triple-time. And the CDC claims that one out of every 5 deaths in the US is smoking related.  The risk of dying from bronchitis and emphysema increases seventeen fold if you are a smoker; catching cancers of the trachea, lung, and bronchus you are more than twenty-three times more likely to die. 37.5% of smoking related deaths are from cardiovascular illnesses. And nine out of ten cases of COPD are smoking related. The two most common conditions leading to COPD are bronchitis and emphysema. If you want to read a good article about COPD check out

What I’m getting from all this information, cross referencing the WHO and CDC, is that Obesity is killing more people than smoking. So where are all the anti-obesity commercials? If the non-smoking commercials are truly to prevent health problems, then where are all the preventative health commercials about obesity?


I smoked about a pack and a half a day by the time I quit. Consistently I smoked a pack a day almost my whole smoking career:

22 * 365 * 7 = 56,210

At one pack per day, averaging $7 per pack, living in California and Las Vegas most of the 22 years, I would say that $56k is a low ball estimate. I think about what I could do with that missing money. Like put it into SOL at 4% APY and sit back with over $2,000 in pure interest every year. Waiting for that crypto currency to balloon.


How many hypothetical relationships did I ruin from smoking. I will never know. Because that person never said anything to me, because once they realized I was a smoker, they didn’t initiate a conversation, or accept that invitation, or even stick around for me to acknowledge them.

I once lost a job because of smoking. I was hired on as one of 3 programmers in this room the size of a cubicle and because I smoked on my lunch break, they all complained about the smell. When I got hired I was trying to quit so I didn’t smell during the interview, but I picked it back up after the first few weeks at the company. So one day, I was asked not to smoke before, or at work. So I quit. Not cigarettes but the job. It was an easy $50k annual programming job (paid training to learn python). I chose cigarettes over employer. I know. I’m an idiot.


They say that smoking takes five minutes off your life, but what I’ve never heard them say is that smoking actually takes five minutes to accomplish. So I was standing around for about two hours a day, just to take another two hours a day off my life on the backend. Not very productive.

Smoking affects productivity. Employers know this (time, health and opportunity). If you even achieve employment through the company you’re applying for (you smell remember?), your hourly/salary wage might be less than your smoke free co-workers based on the fact that you stand around a lot. Smoking.


Each and every time I tried to quit smoking I gave in. Because smoking is emotional. It’s a lifestyle. A culture. It’s attached to habits like nervousness, sex, waiting, reading, driving, drinking, socializing etc. One thing it’s not attached to is running. I have never wanted to smoke a cigarette after a sprint. I used to always give in because I figured, it’s too painful to bear, I’ll just take my chances about my long-term health. It’s not that expensive. I’ll just try to cut back. Then I would give in and think, I guess I’ll just be a smoker the rest of my life, nobody knows when their time is up anyways.

Opportunity and time I never considered till after years of being smoke free. It took about 365 days to really feel better about being a non-smoker. If you feel you can’t quit, I guarantee that if you can make it 365 days, the next 730 will come easy. In fact, you’ll even laugh when you get a cigarette craving. It’s actually comical when you get one after being smoke free so long.

I feel better physically. Mentally I don’t have a tidal wave rolling around in my head from nicotine rush to nicotine depletion. I don’t dread long flights or work hours or have to get up from a movie to go smoke.

I have two whole hours to write this article that would have just gone up in smoke. I’m not scrounging up change to buy a pack or bumming a smoke from a stranger. Or even worse, giving away a couple smokes a day to complete bums that stand around smoking and bumming smokes from strangers.

I work out now to release endorphins, it gets me high. It’s a much better feeling than smoking. My lungs don’t hurt. Food taste great. Even cheap food.

Holding a cigarette in my hand was the hardest thing to get over. Bringing a cigarette from my hand to my mouth. My mouth to my hand. When I was waiting I would smoke, so every time I had to wait, it would trigger smoking. When I quit I still pretended that I had a cigarette in my hand and brought it to my lips and took a long deep inhale. I held it in for a few seconds, then slowly blew the imaginary smoke out. I did this for a couple minutes. I felt stupid. But smoking is stupid. so….

What I realized is that the breathing was what caused the feeling of wanting to smoke. Or should I say, lack of breathing the way of a cigarette. That breathing rhythm. The pattern. So I started breathing meditation and it not only kept me from smoking, it helped with anxiety as well. I would just pretend like I was taking a hit off a cigarette, hold it for a second or two, and slowly exhale a cloud of carbon dioxide. I would dwell upon nothing but my breath. My lungs. My inhale. My exhale. I would repeat this regularly. Now I use it only when needed and for much shorter sessions than when I started. Sometime a few deep breaths accomplish what would take 10 to 15 minutes when I started.

The best advice I could give to a smoker wanting to quit, is are you serious about wanting to change your lifestyle. Because that’s what smoking is. A lifestyle.

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