Smoking was costing me $1,000 a month by the end. But that’s not why I quit – The Guardian

Quit smoking

I quit smoking and all I have to show for it is this beautiful house where my amazing mother can retire early and in peace, free from the financial pressure that had come to define our lives.

By the end, in early June, the cost of my habit was more than $1,000 a month – more than half the cost of the monthly mortgage, which I’d entered into just weeks before. It’s a shameful number, though not the reason I stopped smoking. However, it is the reason I can never go back to smoke.

After smoking openly for 17 years and hideously since the pandemic, my apparent need for tobacco was taking control of even my social calendar. I avoided gatherings where I thought it would not be easy to smoke, or where I assumed people would prefer I didn’t. Dinner parties at houses? Almost entirely out of the question. I’d have to excuse myself from the table, scurry outside and then come back smelling like flambéed regret. No thank you.

When I heard my friend’s four-year-old son went to the back of the house one night yelling “Riiiiiick” while he looked for me in the yard where I always hid to have a dart, I was disturbed.

Somehow, I had become one of those sad old men from the Quit ads who just wanted to play cricket with their boy one last time but couldn’t on account of the emphysema. And I wasn’t even a dad!

All the while, the price I was paying for a packet of cigarettes was increasing.

A new research from the University of Queensland suggests more people now are motivated to cut down or stop smoking altogether by the cost than for health reasons. Tobacco excise has risen by 25% in 2010 and 12.5% each year between 2013 and 2020.

I never went without cigarettes in that time but many other things were skipped: food, rent, the god-damned dentist.

The addiction came first, always, and honestly I’d do the same again. Not because I ever particularly wanted to be a smoker, mind you, but because my mental health was abysmal and it wasn’t being treated effectively.

I wasn’t diagnosed properly.

There is much evidence that establishes a link between pre-existing mental health illnesses and a smoking habit. And, cruel world, there is an even bigger causal link between poverty or financial stress and poor mental health. The effect of this is to make the conditions for escape from addiction that much harder for …….


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