Elizabeth Davies questions why anyone would smoke when it's bad for their health and costs a small fortune

Elizabeth Davies questions why anyone would smoke when it's bad for their health and costs a small fortune

By Elizabeth Davies

I’ve never been a smoker. Once when I was 15 I took a puff of a friend’s cigarette at a party, in what I imagine was a desperate attempt to look ‘cool’. After a distinctly un-cool coughing fit I turned to my friend and asked if it was supposed to feel like that. I’ll never forget her response, with a half smile and a raised eye brow she replied ‘It sucks for the first week or two and then you start to really like it’.

This made no sense to me, I’d always thought that an addiction must feel amazing from day one, how else would anyone become addicted in the first place? It was never difficult for me to resist the supposedly sexy, cool, allure of cigarettes and thankfully by the time I was drinking in bars smoking was legally established as a strictly outside activity.

That being said I’ve never been an anti-smoking crusader. I don’t cough loudly when people light up and if a fellow commuter sitting at my bus stop is kind enough to ask ‘mind if I smoke’, you won’t find me shouting ‘mind if I die?’ in their face. In general smoking doesn’t bother me, it’s a personal decision.

Admittedly I will put my judgmental pants on when I see a pregnant woman lighting up or an adult smoking in close proximity to children. Like I said, it’s a personal decision; you don’t have the right to make it for your unborn child or your kids.

For me the hardest part of smoking to understand is the financial aspect. An average 20 pack of cigarettes costs around $17, making a pack a day habit cost just under $120 a week. The government’s massive tax hikes on cigarettes had found a way to encourage smokers to quit that they can’t ignore.

From November this year the duty free allowance for cigarettes will drop from 200 to 50. Gone are the days of stocking up on carton upon carton of duty free cigarettes every time you, a family member, or friend goes overseas. So buy your mum some perfume rather than smokes, it’s a nicer gesture that doesn’t subtly imply you’re ok with her dying.

Fewer young people are smoking these days. We now truly understand how unhealthy the habit is. But perhaps an even stronger motivation to avoid smoking is the fact we can’t afford it.

It’s somewhat depressing to think that your health and the health of those you love isn’t enough motivation to kick the habit. But if the only way to continue to reduce smoking is financially, I’m 100% supportive.

As the number of young smokers drops, the habit is slowly relinquishing its ‘cool’ reputation. Sooner or later you stop associating smoking with sexy, glamorous, black and white stills of film stars and start thinking about tar-filled lungs and still born babies. We have pictorial warning labels on cigarette packages to genuinely thank for this change in connotation.

These days I don’t know many smokers, when we reached our twenties people seemed to make the effort to quit. Perhaps more significantly I don’t know a single smoker that doesn’t possess the desire to quit.


Elizabeth Davies is a 24 year-old graduate of the Auckland University of Technology post graduate journalism course. She lives with her partner in Epsom and spends her free time refurbishing vintage furniture and attempting to bake while fighting a daily battle against her bank balance. She writes a weekly article for interest.co.nz on money matters and financial struggles from a young person's perspective.

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Good god. What a supercilious piece. Don't really care what you think about smoking. When they banned smoking in bars i just had my own bar built at my house. Plenty of people enjoy it. It's called freedom.

There is a personal branding element in my view. If I see someone under the age of say 40 or even 50 smoking, so of an age where they should have known better before they became addicted, then I'm afraid I conclude they are antisocial and stupid. They might as well have a Tshirt on saying exactly that- "You are with someone stupid who doesn't care whether they have any close friends".
Given I imagine any hardcore smokers under 40 would struggle to find flatmates or life partners (who don't want all their clothes and cars and houses stinking of stale smoke) who are not also hardcore smokers, then they would be limiting their circle of close friends considerably.
So apart from the health and cost issues, think through what it says about you to others before you take it up.

Well i fall within your age group Mr L. And i ain't stupid. If you can afford it, then why not? Agreed it's definatley more expensive now.
But how about having restaraunts and bars for smokers only.?   Wouldn't do would it!   Always have to have sticky beaks.

moa man,
Am more than happy to accept that you are not stupid. That misses the point. If I first met you, and you were smoking and clearly under say 40, then I couldn't help myself jumping to the conclusion that you make poor judgements.
To illustrate, in London I was on the executive board of a company that hired mostly smart young people and paid them well. One day we worked out that of 150 staff, we had only two clearly addicted smokers. (Others it was true, were "social smokers" occasionally over a drink). We had not promoted anyone who was a serial smoker to a very senior position . We realised on the board we all had a subconscious or conscious bias against smokers, and not because we were particularly anti smoking per se. We all linked it to poor judgement, lack of self control, and somewhat anti social behaviour. You can challenge whether we should have had those views, but have them, we all did. (The Board was a mix of a couple of Americans, a Canadian, a couple of Brits and myself, from NZ)
So if someone wants to get on in their careers, their chances are better if they don't smoke. 

upping the tax on smoking is one thing, apart from discouraging it, partly its just getting closer to covering the health cost on the public system. What about alcohol? Much bigger societal cost, cost of crime, of DUI, of deaths, and to top it off.... an industry that "regulates" itself.... even banks have a RBNZ

I think the Opinion section of Interest.co.nz can be used far better than this. I am not sure the opinions of a 24 year old who has never really smoked adds value to anyone who smokes or does not.
The last post for Elizabeth was a rant aboout Auckland housing prices and that the budget had nothing in it for her. 
Surely her generation can offer a more interesting insight than these 2 topics.

I recall visiting Turkey in 2000 and in every taxi I got into I was offered a smoke by the taxi driver. I thought to myself, how can they afford this given it was very apparent based on the fares that taxi driving was an extremely low paid job. And in all the squares and public meeting places, you'd similarly see the population gathering and greeting one another and out would come the pack of smokes with an offer to the other person. And the general population, although obviously very poor - were a cheerful, warm and welcoming lot.
Then I learned what the price of a pack of cigarettes were - about .50 cents NZ at the time - in other words affordable for all - and of course smoking was a very sociable, friendly thing to do.
Someone (although I couldn't say whether they were right) suggested that it was the government's intention to keep the price of smokes extremely low, so that they could be enjoyed by everyone - no matter how rich or how poor. And of course I believe stats will show that the poorer one is, the more likely one will take up smoking.
So I do think that this government's punative tax treatment of cigarettes is essentially just another rip off aimed at the poor.  Even Treasury pointed out in their last analysis that the tax collected already far exceeded the actual cost of smoking related health care - and that was before all the recent tax increases as promoted by the Maori Party as part of their coalition agreement.
Couldn't agree more about the far greater harm done to Maori (and indeed all) population arising from alcohol consumption.  And the cost to the policing, health care and justice systems too is far, far greater where alcohol abuse is concerned.
So the position of this government on smokes seems to me to be quite disingenuous.

An American visiting Turkey in 2000, sounds like CIA to me. Did you visit Israel too ?  How well do you know Kim dot com? The plot is thickening. A job for GCSB.

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