Smoking – by the pack or by the stick?

Which option is cheaper? Looking at the short term (in a smoker’s world, short term might mean only 24 hours), by the stick is cheaper. Of course that depends on how many sticks you usually smoke per day. On average, its safe to say 8 to 18 for the average Malaysian smoker. That too depends on the age, brand, financial background and work environment.

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I came across this article : http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/fighting-big-tobacco-in-malaysia-fifa-rahman/, on which 1st sentence is quote shocking. ” In a country where 46 per cent of males smoke, and where the government spends RM20 billion a year treating tobacco-related illnesses”.

Statistics show that the average Malaysian smoker spends RM 180 per month (ref : http://www.internationaltobaccoonline.com/malaysian-smokers-per-month-spend-an-average-of-about-180-ringgit-purchase-tobacco-p-2117.html) based on a study done by Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in 2011.

With 15 million males in Malaysia (May 2012 Stats http://www.statistics.gov.my/portal/download_Buletin_Bulanan/files/BPBM/2012/MEI/05_Population.pdf), 46% would mean 6.9 million male smokers. At RM 180 per month per smoker, that adds up to RM 1.242 billion every month or close to RM 15 billion per annum. That’s a lot of cigarettes !

When I was in school about 15 – 20 years ago, a pack of Dunhill was just RM 3.50 compared to RM 10.00, an increase of nearly 300% over 20 years. But since smoking is bad for your health, no one is complaining.

The only issue here, at RM 20 billion per annum to treat lung cancer patients, it costs just RM 5 billion above what the smoking population is spending to maintain their nicotine high. I wonder what the figures are for cigars (which can average RM 500 per stick) …

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