I was shopping the other day at Sam's Club. As we checked out, I scanned the price of cigarettes behind the counter. Marlboro cigarettes were selling for just under $50 a carton. At one pack per day, that's $150 a month. For a year, that works out to $1,800.
I once calculated how much a four pack a day family could have had in the bank had they not smoked for fifty years and instead invested that money at standard returns. Six million dollars they'd have to enjoy in retirement. That's amazing. Six million dollars. And we wouldn't be talking about a bankrupt entitlement system. Everyone has their threshold for quitting. I think the cost of cigarettes should be driven north of $10 a pack with aggressive taxation to drive away most young people from the habit. It also gives a great incentive for those freedom fighting smokers to quit smoking for good.
Happy: Man, I can't believe it costs $50 a carton to smoke these days.Clerk: Yeah, I don't know how the kids afford it these days.Happy: Hopefully, they can't.Clerk: My neighbor finally gave up smoking. She said it was too expensive. She's taking all the money she's saving and putting it towards a vacation fund.Happy: What a great idea. I wonder what price it takes everyone to quit.Clerk: I don't know, but it just amazes me how anyone finds the money to pay for these things.
At what cost will people quit smoking? I know everyone is different. I had a patient tell me she quit smoking when the average price of cigarettes hit thirty cents a pack. Thirty cents a pack. She said that was a ridiculous price back then. I suppose that was before government welfare checks guaranteed access to cigarettes. In fact, I'm kind of surprised today's Congress hasn't passed the Smoker's Protection Act of 2010. I suppose it's only a matter of time before free cigarettes become a right.