Costs of Cigarette Smoking Highlighted During Great American Smokeout

Vermont Department of Health campaign shows money saved by quitting

For Immediate Release: November 18 , 2004

Contact:  Moira Cook
Tobacco Control Chief
Vermont Department of Health

BURLINGTON - Fifty percent more young adult Vermonters (aged 18-24) smoke cigarettes than do adults in the state’s general population – despite their knowledge of the serious health problems. To help young adults quit smoking, the Vermont Department of Health has started a new educational campaign to show them something most smokers don’t often think about – the surprising impact that smoking cigarettes has on their wallets.

“As an ex-smoker I now save enough money for dinner and a movie every week,” said Anthony Bingham, a 25-year-old Brattleboro resident and father who quit smoking almost a year ago with help from the Vermont Quit Line. “I used to run up the stairs to work, two stories up, and I was out of breath because I smoked. I was so disgusted with myself that I decided to do something about it.”

Bingham contacted the Vermont Quit Line at 1-877-YES-QUIT (937-7848) and has been smoke-free ever since. He attributes most of his success to his Quit Line phone counselor, who “really wanted (me) to quit for myself and my family.”

Thirty percent of young adults in Vermonters smoke, versus 19.5 percent for the general adult population in the state, and tobacco companies market heavily to the younger consumers. Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day (at an average of $5 per pack) costs approximately $150 per month or $1,800 per year, not to mention the many other costs associated with smoking, including medical treatment, health insurance, fires and cleaning bills.

“During the American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout and throughout the year, we hope that when Vermonters see how much of their own money quitting smoking will put back in their pockets, they’ll have an added reason to call the Vermont Quit Line,” said Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, MD. “Pack-a-day smokers will see how quickly their $5 a day can add up and how quitting will allow them to spend money on fun and healthier things.”

As part of the new campaign, the Vermont Department of Health is sending drink coasters to bars across the state. Designed to look like folded $5 bills, the coasters provide the toll-free number for the Vermont Quit Line and also detail the money that can be saved by quitting smoking. Free playing cards that look like a fake cigarette brand called “Money Suckers” featuring facts about smoking, tips on how to quit smoking and the amount of money that can be saved by quitting smoking will be handed out by community coalitions across the state.

The Vermont Department of Health also has produced three television ads showing former smokers happily finding money in their clothing, car and furniture. Ads showing fake $5 bills above pumps at gas stations and on floor mats in front of convenience store counters are further ways that the link between quitting smoking and finding money – especially with gas prices currently above $2 per gallon – are being connected.

To encourage all Vermonters to quit smoking, the Vermont Department of Health is offering free or discounted nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) patches, gum and lozenges as added financial incentives to quit smoking. The NRT is available by calling the Vermont Quit Line at 1-877-YES-QUIT (937-7848).

The money-themed campaign is part of the Vermont Department of Health’s statewide effort to spread the word that resources are available to Vermonters to help them quit, and that their health, as well as their wallets, stand to benefit greatly.