Stoptober: How giving up smoking is boosting my health and financial wellbeing

4 October 2017

It’s that time of the year again when the government launches its annual campaign to get the dwindling number of hardened smokers to quit during the month of October.

Since its launch in 2012, Public Health England says that more than 1.5 million people have tried to quit during the past five Stoptober campaigns.

You may remember that I blogged about giving up smoking during last year’s campaign.

I attended smoking cessation sessions with a nurse at my GP’s practice and started taking Zyban tablets, which aim to reduce cravings for nicotine.

Prior to that, I’d tried everything from hypnotherapy - which worked for a few months before I fell off the bandwagon - and had also read Paul McKenna’s Quit Smoking Today book and listened to his CD, which sent me to sleep, as well as reading Alan Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking, which friends swear by, but did little for me. I have also tried nicotine replacement patches and e-cigarettes.

Last year, I’m ashamed to admit that the Zyban tablets worked for a few months, but eventually I succumbed once again to the draw of nicotine.

However, I have now gone cold turkey, which I’ve found easier, after two things motivated me to quit smoking this summer.

First and foremost was the news that a close friend - who has never smoked - has lung cancer. Hearing how hard it’s been for her over the past few months as she faces what a nurse irritatingly informed her was her “cancer journey” was enough to make me feel guilty about my own smoking and worried about its effects on my health.

Secondly, is the not-so-upsetting but significant impact on my finances.

According to analysis by M&G Investments, a typical smoker spends £250 a month on cigarettes. It calculates that if someone had successfully quit when Stoptober was first launched five years ago and invested the monthly saving, they could now have £18,653 - based on investing £250 a month in the FTSE All-Share Index.

Had they quit when the public smoking ban came into force in England in 2007 and invested the money instead, M&G calculates that they could now have £48,881 – also based on investing £250 a month in the FTSE All-Share Index.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been saving about £40 a week on my 10 cigarettes a day habit and have set up a regular savings account so I can treat myself in a year’s time. It’s early days yet, but, hopefully, next year, I won’t be writing this blog because I will finally consider myself a long-term non-smoker.