The Hidden Cost Of Smoking: Stop Smoking And Save $25,000
 
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The Hidden Cost Of Smoking: Stop Smoking And Save $25,000

Ming Feng
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Since 2017, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has been progressively raising the minimum legal age for smoking every January.

The ultimate goal being you’ll have to be at least 21 years old to light up.

By raising the minimum legal age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products.

This should prevent youths from picking up smoking at a young age.

Now that 2020 is almost upon us, that means that the minimum age for smoking will be raised from 19 to 20 years old on 1 Jan 2020.

While many think that smoking is cool, it’s really more like this:

Homer Smoking Burning Money
Source: giphy

Don’t believe me?

Here’s how much it costs to smoke in Singapore.


TL;DR: Cost Of Smoking In Singapore

Seedly Cost Of Smoking

Depending on whether you’re a heavy smoker or a social one, you’ll need to deal with a list of (supposedly) unnecessary costs:

 Heavy SmokerAverage SmokerSocial Smoker
Cost Of Cigarettes
(Per Year)
S$3,540.50 to S$5,146.50S$504.40 to S$733.20S$116.40 to S$169.20
Fines
(Per Year)
S$1,600S$400S$200
Cost Of Seeking Treatment
(If You Suay And Need It In A Year)
S$13,690 to S$18,374
Total CostS$18,830.50 to S$25,120.50S$14,594.40 to S$19,507.20S$14,006.40 to S$18,743.20

FYI: $25,000 is enough for a 5% cash downpayment for a $500,000 HDB flat.

Even if you don’t kena fine and you don’t kena any smoking-related diseases…

S$5,146.50 annually quickly adds up over the years and that’s money which could be key to your early retirement.


How Much Will I Spend On Cigarettes In A Year?

To get a better idea of how much it will cost, we chose three different brands of cigarettes to give a more accurate range of how much you’d spend:

  • Marlboro Gold at S$14.10 per pack
  • Viceroy Hokkaido Mint Boost at S$11.60 per pack
  • Playoff at S$9.70 per pack

On top of that, we analysed three types of smokers:

  • A heavy smoker who smokes one pack every day
  • An average smoker who finishes one pack a week
  • A social smoker who only smokes one pack a month

Here’s how much they’d spend on cigarettes in a year:

  Amount Spent On Cigarettes In A Year
Type Of SmokerFrequencyMarlboro Gold at S$14.10/pack Viceroy Hokkaido Mint Boost at S$11.60/pack Playoff at S$9.70/pack
Heavy1 Pack A DayS$5,146.50S$4,234S$3,540.50
Average1 Pack A WeekS$733.20S$603.20S$504.40
Social1 Pack A MonthS$169.20S$139.20S$116.40

If you’re a heavy smoker you’d spend between S$3,540.50 – S$5,146.50 on cigs alone!

Ice Cube And Chris Tucker Going Damn
Source: Friday | giphy

Even if you went with the cheapest option and limited yourself to one pack a month, you’d still spend S$116.40 a year.

How Much Is Tobacco Tax In Singapore?

If you’re wondering why cigarettes cost so much here in Singapore, it’s because of the 10% hike in excise duty on tobacco products which was effective since February 2018.

Before the hike, a pack of Marlboro Golds only cost S$13.

This means that you’re effectively paying an additional S$1.10 to the government every time you reach for a pack.

Smoking Fines In Singapore

Besides being prohibitively expensive.

Guy Pissed At Girl Smoking
Source: giphy

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has also deployed thermal cameras to detect and catch smoking in prohibited areas.

So if you suay suay kena caught, you’re looking at a fine of S$200.

And if you’re convicted in court, the fine can even go up to as high as S$1,000!

Where Is Smoking Prohibited?

If you’re in a building or public service vehicle, smoking is out of the question except at designated indoor smoking rooms and uncovered areas on the rooftops of multi-storey carparks.

Even if you’re outside a building or a public service vehicle, smoking is prohibited at:

  • Bus stops, bus shelters, and bus poles, including any area within a five-metre radius
  • Covered linkways
  • Everywhere around the hospital compounds
  • Educational institutions and their compounds including any area within five metres of the school compound
  • Parks in public housing estates managed by the respective Town Councils
  • Parks under the purview of Jurong Town Corporation (JTC)
  • Pavilions within any residential premises or building meant to hold functions
  • Pedestrian overhead bridges, covered or underground walkways
  • Playgrounds and exercise areas, including adjacent amenities for users
  • Reservoirs
  • Swimming pools, including changing and shower rooms or areas frequented by any user of the swimming pool
  • Washrooms, including mobile toilets

Smoking is also prohibited in any area within five metres of ventilation intakes, external windows, openings, entrances, and exits to buildings.

As well as, some parks, gardens and nature reserves managed by the National Parks Board.

Note: this list is not exhaustive so it’s best to check with NEA if you’re unsure.

Looking at the above list, it’s obvious that a higher frequency of smoking means that there’s a higher chance of you getting caught.

Especially if you, unfortunately, find yourself in a prohibited area and badly need a nicotine fix.

Unless you can do this:

Saying No To Smoking
Source: giphy

But all the time?

Plus, it’ll definitely get a little irritating if you need to check against NEA’s list of prohibited areas every time before lighting up…

Assuming a pack of cigarettes has 20 sticks, and you have maybe… a 1 in 1,000 stick probability of getting fined – especially with the islandwide implementation of thermal cameras.

Here’s what your odds look like and how much in fines you’d expect to pay in a year (if you only smoke in areas where smoking is allowed then touchwood lah…):

Type Of SmokerFrequencyTotal Number Of Sticks Of Cigarettes Smoked In A YearOdds Of Getting Fined
(1 In 1,000 Sticks)
Total Fines Paid
(S$200 each time)
Heavy1 Pack A Day7,3007.3S$1,600
Average1 Pack A Week1,0401.04S$400
Social1 Pack A Month2400.24S$200

Note: I rounded the odds up to the closest whole number because as long as there’s a slight chance of getting caught, anything that can go wrong will confirm go wrong…

The main takeaway here?

If you’re a heavy smoker, you’re looking at potentially forking out $1,600 a year (especially if you’re damn suay).

And I’m not even counting on the fact that you might have to pay $1,000 if convicted in court…

What Are The Potential Health Issues And Costs Due To Smoking?

Let’s be realistic.

If you choose to smoke or be around second-hand smoke, you’re exposing yourself to potential health risks and problems.

In fact, about 6 Singaporeans die prematurely from smoking-related disease every day.

And that’s because smoking causes a variety of health risks like:

  • Increase risk of coronary heart disease by 2-4 times
  • Increase risk of stroke by 2-4 times
  • Increase risk of lung cancer in males by 25 times and females by 25.7 times

FYI: all three are the nation’s top killers.

So… What Is The Cost Of Smoking-Related Diseases?

Besides the cost of the cigarettes and the possibility of paying for fines, you’ll also have to consider the cost of seeking treatment.

Here’s a look at some of the common procedures for smoking-related diseases:

Cost Of Procedure(s)Public Hospital/Centres
(Subsidised)
Public Hospital/Centres
(UnSubsidised)
Private Hospitals/Clinics
Coronary Angioplasty
(Heart Attack)
S$5,269 to S$7,346S$16,262 to S$18,255$40,201
Coronary Artery Bypass
(Conventional Surgery)
S$5,926 to S$8,006S$32,878 to $38,485$75,398
Removal Of Blood Clot Without Severe Complications
(Stroke)
S$1,625 to S$1,949S$4,153 to S$5,650$9,836
Chronic Lung Disease (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)S$870 to S$1,073S$2,717 to S$3,304Info not available due <30 cases recorded

Source: MOH | Data from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018

If you, unfortunately, need all four procedures and opt to have them done in a public hospital (with subsidies)…

You’re looking at a hospital bill which ranges from S$13,690 to S$18,374.

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About Ming Feng
A stint in Bloomberg gifted me with a beer belly, which only grew larger when I moved on to become a Professional Trader. Now I turn caffeine into digestible finance-related content.
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