facebookThe Hidden Cost of Smoking: Stop Smoking and Save up To S$25,108 a Year



Smoking singapore cost

The Hidden Cost of Smoking: Stop Smoking and Save up To S$25,108 a Year

profileMing Feng

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

On 1 January 2020 this year, the Minimum Legal Age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products (MLA) was raised from 19 to 20 years old.

Now that 2021 is almost upon us, the minimum age for smoking will be raised from 19 to 20 years old on 1 Jan 2020.

I am actually supportive of this move, as I think that you need to be older and more mature to make this kind of life decision for yourself.

After all, it is common knowledge that smoking is harmful to your health and comes at a heavy financial cost.

Source: giphy

But how much exactly?

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

TL;DR: Cost Of Smoking In Singapore (2021)

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

CostHeavy SmokerAverage SmokerSocial Smoker
Cost Of Cigarettes
(Per Year)
(Per Year)
Cost Of Seeking Treatment
(If You Suay And Need It In A Year)
S$13,690 to S$18,374
Total CostS$20,064 to S$25,108S$14,772 to S$19,816S$14,047 to S$18,731

FYI: $25,000 is enough for a 5 per cent 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$4,774 a year quickly adds up over the years, as this could be money that could be key to your early retirement.

How Much Will I Spend On Cigarettes In A Year in Sinagpore?

To provide an estimate we have come up with some standard scenarios.

Here is our methodology and assumptions.

According to German market and consumer data firm Statista, the average 20-stick pack of cigarettes in Singapore in 2019 costs S$13.08.

This includes cigarette packs like:

  • Marlboro Gold at S$14.50 per pack
  • Viceroy Hokkaido Mint Boost at S$12.20 per pack
  • LD Menthol at S$12 per pack

On top of that, we have identified three main types of smokers with varying smoking habits:

  • 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 SmokerFrequencyAverage Retail Price of Cigarettes in Singapore (S$13.08 a pack)
Heavy1 Pack A Day (365 days)~S$4,774
Average1 Pack A Week (52.149 weeks)~S$682
Social1 Pack A Month (12 months)~S$157

*rounded up to the nearest dollar.

If you’re a heavy smoker you’d spend about ~S$4,774 on cigs a year.

Source: Friday | giphy

Even if you were a light smoker, you’d still spend ~S$157 a year on cigarettes.

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 per cent hike in excise duty on tobacco products that was imposed from February 2018.

Before the hike, the retail price for a pack of Marlboro Golds was only S$13.

Smoking Fines In Singapore

Besides being prohibitively expensive.

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 are 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 clear 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:

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 Day (365 days)7,3007.3S$1,600
Average1 Pack A Week (52.149 weeks)1,0431.04S$400
Social1 Pack A Month (12 months)2400.24S$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 diseases every day.

And that’s because smoking raises your risk of coronary heart disease; stroke and lung cancer by:

  • Coronary heart disease by 2-4 times
  • Stroke by 2-4 times
  • Lung cancer in males by 25 times and females by 25.7 times

FYI: all three are Singapore’s three 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 the cost some of the common procedures for smoking-related diseases:

Cost Of Procedure(s)Public Hospital/Centres
(Subsidised: Ward C or B2)
Public Hospital/Centres
(Subsidised: Ward B1 or A)
Private Hospitals/Clinics
Coronary Angioplasty
(Heart Attack)
S$3,402 to S$7,357S$11,424 to S$18,213
S$28,131 to S$38,463
Heart Bypass (Conventional Surgery)S$5,434 to S$9,474S$31,338 to $41,325S$74,008 to S$87,958
Removal Of Blood Clot Without Severe Complications
S$1,197 to S$2,561S$4,153 to S$7,424S$6,065 to S$$14,180
Chronic Lung Disease (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)S$563 to S$1,634S$1,920 to S$6,243$4,720 to $11,153

Source: MOH | Figures shown on this table include GST and are based on the median of actual transacted fees across the medical institutions for each bill component, from 1 Jul 2018 to 30 Jun 2019. They, therefore, provide an estimate of fees but do not necessarily sum up to the total bill amount. 

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$10,596 to S$21,206.

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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