Rising Cigarette Prices Is Incentive To Quit Smoking

By Amir Khan on July 31, 2012 3:35 PM EDT

Smoking
The rising cost of cigarettes is a great incentive for smokers to kick the habit, according to new research. (Photo: Reuters)

The rising cost of cigarettes is a great incentive for smokers to kick the habit, according to new research. As prices go up, it becomes cheaper to switch to other options, such as medication, instead.

Being a smoker in Chicago, for example, can easily run $300 per month, researchers said. That's more than twice the cost of a monthly medication to help smokers quit. However, just because it's cheaper doesn't mean it's easy.

"Nicotine really is that addictive. It's a hard battle, but every one that we win, including increasing the cost of cigarettes through taxes, brings individual smokers to the tipping point where the pain of smoking overcomes the joys of nicotine and they quit," Dr. Phillip McAndrew, an internal medicine physician and occupational health expert at Loyola University Health System, told HealthDay. "The tipping point could be a life-altering health experience, but often it's the impact on the pocketbook that makes people really consider quitting."

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Smoking kills over 400,000 people a year, about 1,200 daily, and the earlier smokers start the more likely they are to die from smoking-related diseases. More than 80 percent of smokers start before age 18 and 99 percent start by age 26.

Smoking can cause a myriad of health problems including stroke, heart disease, chronic lung problems, and various cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking costs the United States $96 billion in medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity every year.

McAndrew said people who are successful at quitting usually have a network of support.

"To quit you need the time and teamwork approach. Don't expect to do it overnight and you need a team of support around you to cheer you on. That team captain should be your physician," he said. "Nicotine is too strong an opponent for someone to go it alone. You need that team to help keep you on track when everything inside of you wants to go back."

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