How Much Does Smoking Cost in Singapore?

How Much Does Smoking Cost in Singapore?

Historically, Singapore has always enacted pretty stringent smoking policies. In 1971, Singapore became the first Asian country to prohibit tobacco advertising. Smoking in various public places has been banned since 1970, and the list of public areas where Singaporeans can light a smoke is ever shrinking. These measures made a significant impact on the smoking rate in the country, bringing it down from 23% in 1977 to 13.3% in 2013.

smoking singapore

More recently, a bill was passed in September to give National Environment Agency (NEA) officers greater enforcement powers to enter smoking-prohibited places in order to investigate smoking-related offences.

The financial cost of smoking

Whether or not you the bill is a good move, it’s likely that most Singaporeans (even the smokers among us!) will agree on one thing: smoking is expensive.

Just how expensive is smoking in Singapore? In a comparison between the world’s ten most expensive cities, Singapore comes up at number three for most expensive branded cigarettes, at an average of US$9.66 (or about S$13.31) per pack. If you’re into Marlboro cigarettes, a pack could set you back S$14.10.

Here’s how smoking can burn a hole in your wallet over time:

Cigarette(s) per day1 day1 month1 year5 years20 years
Figures are based on S$14.10 for a pack of 20 cigarettes

If you smoke a pack a day, you’d be spending S$5,147 a year on cigarettes! It’s no pocket change, and you could probably think of a few other ways you’d rather spend that amount of cash. Otherwise, we provide a few suggestions:

Based on S$14.10 per pack
What you could spend on instead
1 day
Forgoing a pack for one day could buy you a cinema
ticket or a meal at an inexpensive restaurant.
1 month
Swap one vice for another and indulge in retail therapy
– S$437.10 could get you two pairs of Nike running shoes.
1 year
The amount you could save by not smoking for a year is no small sum – it's even higher than the median gross monthly income in Singapore. With S$5,147, you could afford to upgrade to the newest iPhone every year. As of 2018, you could even get x3 iPhone XSes with this money.
5 years
In 5 years, the amount of money a pack-a-day smoker would have spent really starts to snowball. With S$25,733, you could pay a year's worth of rent for a 1-bedroom apartment outside the city centre.
20 years
In a span of 20 years, the amount of money spent on cigarettes could go up to a whopping S$102,930. This could go to the down payment of your home, or to a purchase of a car.

Instead of spending that money on cigarettes, imagine if you had chosen to invest it. Investing S$5,147 each year for 20 years will net you around S$225,774 (before inflation), based on an annual return of 7%. That’s a tidy sum of money that could provide a significant boost to your retirement fund. Even if you were a light smoker at five cigarettes a day, investing the amount of money you would have spent on cigarettes would net you around S$56,454 after 20 years.

Other financial costs of smoking

Unfortunately, the financial drain of buying cigarette packs is only a fraction of what you may spend as a smoker. Here are other costs to factor in:

  • Higher insurance premiums – smokers may pay substantially higher premiums for life and health insurance, compared to non-smokers.
  • Beauty and dental costs – yellowing teeth, bad breath and premature wrinkling are just a few examples of aesthetic concerns that may cause a smoker to spend more on dentist visits, skincare, breath fresheners and other miscellaneous items and services.
  • Home and auto costs – tobacco use can leave unpleasant smells, stains and burns in your home and car. Some materials, like upholstery, carpets and drapes absorb and retain the odor of cigarette smoke, which may incur extra cleaning and replacement costs. Worse still, this may diminish the resale value of your house or car.
  • Decline in workplace productivity – research suggests that smokers miss two or three more days of work each year than non-smokers. For employees not entitled to sick leave, this would mean a loss of income. Even if you aren’t missing any work days, smoke breaks can reduce your productivity. While this may not affect your pay directly, it can undermine your job performance record.

Health costs of smoking

Of course, smoking is not just taxing on your wallet, but also on your health. In Singapore, tobacco use kills about seven Singaporeans each day, as it increases the risk factor for cancers and other diseases.

smoking singapore

Note: Costs of treatment are accurate as of 2017

It’s clear that smoking is a costly habit, and one that we would be wise to avoid. For those of us who have already taken it up, quitting can be incredibly hard, but it may be worth the effort.

This article was originally published on November 6, 2017.
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