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Don’t let your money go up in smoke this July Savings Month

In addition to the extreme cost to your health, smoking hits your wallet. As a student, as a mom, as a young worker, as someone who wants to save money and be healthy – cigarettes should not be a line item on your budget. If you need another reason to quit smoking, think about how much of your weekly income is going up in smoke. This July Savings Month, it’s time to kick the smoking habit and save your money and your health.

At around R40 or more a pack, if you smoke one pack of cigarettes per day for 10 years, you’ll spend over R130,000 just on cigarettes – enough to buy a car or put a deposit on a house. That doesn’t even take healthcare and related costs into account. A US study from WalletHub shows a smoker would spend over R21 million on cigarettes, health care costs, lost income and other expenses throughout their lifetime. What could you do for yourself and your family with that extra money?


You may not even realise all the cost-saving benefits of quitting.  You're less likely to suffer from influenza and lung infections, and many other diseases which means fewer trips to the doctor, less money spent on medications and fewer sick days. Daily, over 570 people are admitted to South Africa’s hospitals due to tobacco-related illnesses. 


Cheryl, an ex-smoker from Cape Town quit smoking in May 2020 says “ I have calculated that by the end of one year, quitting smoking would have saved me R9600.00, which I plan to spend on a trip. I’m also finding that food tastes better, and that my skin is clearer and noticeably less sallow. I realize now how counterproductive it has been to smoke and simultaneously spend money on skin care products! The benefit I am appreciating the most though, is the simple release and mental freedom from the daily practice of smoking - tobacco no longer controls me.” 


Here’s the rundown, adapted from ‘Smoking – the Financial Cost’ on the Better Health Channel:

After one day of not smokingYou've got an extra R40 in your pocket. You could treat yourself to a delicious sandwich or buy your favourite magazines. Healthwise, most of the nicotine is cleared from your body, your heart rate slows to a normal rate and your blood pressure is more stable.


After two days of not smoking, you've saved R80. You could take a friend to the movies, or treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant.Your skin, hair and breath smell fresher, and less carbon monoxide from smoke in your system means you're breathing more easily.


After one week of not smoking, You've saved R280. That can go a long way to fuel and clothes, or spoils like a pedicure. You have higher blood levels of protective antioxidants, such as vitamin C. Your sense of smell and taste may improve.


After one month of not smoking, you've saved R1,200. You could go away for a night, cover your petrol costs for a two months, or pay for data for a year. Your heart is working more efficiently, exercising is easier and your immune system is starting to recover.


After three months of not smoking, you've saved R3,600. After 6 months, you've got nearly R7,200 more in your pocket. 


Nicotine withdrawal symptoms should be a thing of the past. The health benefits include improved circulation and lung health. The small hair-like structures that clean your lungs, called cilia, are functioning much better. You're likely to cough and wheeze less, and cough up less phlegm. Your immune system also improves, and your body can better protect cuts and wounds from infection. 


After one year of not smoking, you've saved over R14,600. You could buy some new furniture or pay a lump sum off your bond. Your lung function will have continued to improve and your lungs will be much healthier. Good news in the time of a global respiratory pandemic!


Within 2 to 5 years, your risk of heart attack and stroke is substantially reduced. You've also saved between R29,200 and R73,000.


After 10 to 15 years, your risk of developing lung cancer is half that of a person who continue to smoke. You've also saved up to R210,000.


After 20 years, your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke is nearly the same as a person who has never smoked. You've also saved nearly R300,000. 


The health and financial benefits of quitting multiply as time passes. Your sense of smell will continue to slowly improve. Your chances of conceiving a baby improve, as smoking can cause fertility problems, such as impotence in men and a lower chance of conceiving in women. 


On a larger scale, according to a 2016 study, the economic cost of smoking to South Africa was R42 billion (US$2.88 billion), of which R14.48 billion was for healthcare costs (hospitalisation and outpatient department visits). This equates to the annual salaries of 215,000 teachers.

Ultimately, the cost of smoking for you and your family is simply not worth it. 


Dr. Sharon Nyatsanza, National Council Against Smoking (NCAS)

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Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that in South Africa (SA) alone, smoking results in more than half of lung cancer deaths, 37% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths, and over 20% of cardiovascular deaths and tuberculosis (TB) deaths. Smoking-related TB deaths are especially prevalent in South Africa, due to a higher vulnerability of HIV-positive individuals to TB.  Because it attacks the lungs, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke or vape.

The new Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill will make it easier for South Africans to choose smoke-free lives, regulate the danger of e-cigarettes and decrease the impact of second-hand smoke on the majority of the population, who are non-smokers. Why is taking time to implement? Tobacco industry profits are at the expense of addicted smokers, their families, and public health.  Together, the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa are steadfast in campaigning for the new Bill to be passed. It’s time for our people and our government to show leadership in implementing global best practice to curb the onslaught of big tobacco. 

Zanele Mthembu, Public Health Development and Policy Consultant

Savera Kalideen, Executive Director of the National Council Against Smoking 

Sharon Nyatsanza, Project and Communications Manager, National Council Against Smoking 

Lorraine Govender, National Advocacy Co-Ordinator, Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)

Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO, The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa

Dr Catherine Egbe, Specialist Scientist: Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drug Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council

Tamaryn Brown
Connect Media for Cart Agency
+27 (0) 84 3510560

Nirvana Kishoon 
Cart Agency
+27 (0) 82 823 3167


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