ASH Wales is celebrating No Smoking Day (Wednesday 9th March) by highlighting a top 10 list of financial incentives to encourage smokers to quit on the Day.

The health benefits of quitting smoking are well known but many people do not realise the financial benefits including cheaper life insurance and home insurance premiums. With householders finding many insurance and utility bills on the increase quitting smoking is one way for smokers to save some much needed cash.

The top 10 financial reasons for taking that first step to quitting are:

1. Smokers pay almost double the premiums of non smokers for life insurance

Life insurance premiums can cost smokers up to twice as much as non smokers according to comparison website Confused.com.

A 41 year old male smoker would pay £49.09 a month compared to £25.05 for a non smoking male for £250,000 of cover over a 25 year term. This equates to a saving of over £7000 over the full term of the policy for non smokers.

Insurance companies will regard you as a smoker if you have used any tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars or nicotine replacement products within the past 12 months. So if smokers are thinking of quitting, or have already done so, they need to remember to contact their insurance provider once they've been smokefree for 12 months.

2. Want to avoid those visits to the dentist?

Although not everyone wants a Hollywood smile as bright as Simon Cowell's most people appreciate the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. Smoking can cause gum disease, stained teeth and bad breath so if you want to keep your visits to the dentist to a minimum now is the time of quit.

Stuart Geddes, Director, British Dental Association Wales, offers this advice: “The link between smoking and poor oral health is proven. Apart from the discolouration of teeth by staining there is a dramatic increase in the severity of gum problems. So, anyone who is, for example worried about the appearance of their teeth and is considering cosmetic dentistry, should consider if it might be a good idea to stop smoking so that the dentistry that they are about to embark on will be worthwhile, and more than a temporary improvement to their appearance!”

3. Save cash on beauty treatments

We all have to face the ageing process eventually but if you give up smoking you may be able to delay it for longer and save yourself money on anti-ageing beauty products and treatments.

Smoking reduces the production of collagen to the skin which is essential to keep skin supple and elastic resulting in premature ageing, facial wrinkles and hollow cheeks. So spending money on an expensive beauty regime whilst continuing to smoke will be pointless. Smoking has also been linked to acne. Research in the British Journal of Dermatology(1) found that 42% of smokers had acne compared to only one in ten non-smokers. Furthermore, smokers who had suffered acne in their teens were found to be four times more likely to suffer acne as an adult than non-smokers who also had experienced teenage acne.

4. House on the market?

Being a smoker can affect the value and saleability of your house particularly if your prospective purchasers are one of the 76% of Welsh non smokers so now is the best time to quit if you want to get the optimum asking price for your property.

5. Home Insurance

Being a smoker could also increase your home insurance premiums as insurance providers have to weigh up the likelihood of a customer making a claim and then price the policy appropriately.

The average cost of a domestic fire is estimated at £24,900(2) and most smoking related domestic fires are caused by carelessly discarding lit cigarettes, not extinguishing cigarettes properly and/or smoking in bed. Fires started by cigarettes kill more people than any other kind of domestic fire.

In Wales, a 2008(3) survey found that 10% of smokers admitted to falling asleep whilst smoking and 36% of smokers admitted to having smoked in bed. Both activities place smokers at much higher risk of fires in their homes. Additionally, UK research into domestic fire safety has consistently demonstrated that smokers are far less likely to own working smoke detectors((4).

6. Selling your second-hand car?

Buying a car is one of the biggest purchasing decisions that many people make after house purchases and many motorists appreciate the „new car smell‟ which smoking can mask. As well as lingering smells which can last for weeks, burns and stains to upholstery can also affect the car value.

Ian MacDonald, E-Marketing Manager at Trader Media Group offers this advice to motorists wanting to sell their second-hand car: “Time after time our millions of users state that the smell inside a car is a primary deciding factor in the buying decision. To wilfully create a lasting smell of smoke in one's car is to implicitly reduce its value by restricting the potential buying audience to only fellow smokers!”

7. Going smokefree will save you money on vet bills

Many people are aware that second-hand smoke is harmful to their health but not many people are aware of the adverse health effects for their beloved pets which could mean unexpected bills if their pet develops a serious illness.

Living with a smoker increases the risk of pets developing cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems such as asthma because there are over 60 known cancer causing substances found in second-hand smoke that will be inhaled by your pet if you smoke in your home.

British Veterinary Association President Harvey Locke comments: “Household pets can become very ill because their owners smoke in the home. There is evidence that passive smoking in dogs causes chronic bronchitis and can aggravate feline asthma in cats.

“Animals don‟t have a say about where they live. We would urge the public to think about the effect smoking is having on their pets and not to expose animals to second-hand smoke or to any smoking products.”

8. Save on the cost of cigarettes

Quitting smoking can save you a 'packet' as well. With the average cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes costing £6.63, a smoker with a 20-a-day addiction could save £46.41 a week, or £2413.32 a year. This could buy you a family holiday to the Algarve with plenty of money left over.

9. Private Health Insurance

Quitting smoking is also a good reason if you have private health insurance. Although the premiums for health insurance can vary and depend on a number of factors health insurance has been estimated at around 65%(5) more expensive than for non smokers.

Most insurers won‟t consider you to be a non smoker until you have been smokefree for 12 months or longer but this is a good reason to quit this year and when you've reached the anniversary of your quit date shop around for a competitive deal as a non smoker.

10. Planning for your retirement?

Long-term smoking can cause significant damage to your health and may affect your ability to work. With tobacco use killing over 5,000 people in Wales every year and many more suffering poor health and disability smokers face a significantly higher chance of early retirement due to poor health.

Taking that first step to quitting smoking will not only benefit you financially with less time taken off work for GP appointments but will have an impact on NHS resources with smoking costing the NHS in Wales over £386 million every year.(6)

Notes

(1) Capitanio B et al, (2007) British Journal of Dermatology, Volume 157, Issue 5, pages 1070-1071.

(2) Communities and Local Government (2006) The Economic Cost of Fire: Estimates for 2004.

(2) Total sample size was 1,173 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th - 25th February 2008. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Welsh adults (aged 18+).

(4) Put It Out, Put it Right Out , 2007, Welsh Assembly Government.

(5) Article by Insurance Health.

(6) Phillips and Bloodworth 2009, Cost of smoking to the NHS in Wales.