Date
26 March 2017
Professor Vivian Lee (second from right) said an awareness of the economic costs of smoking could help smokers kick the habit. Photo: CUHK
Professor Vivian Lee (second from right) said an awareness of the economic costs of smoking could help smokers kick the habit. Photo: CUHK

Can’t afford to buy a home? Stop smoking!

Smokers who consume a pack of cigarettes a day will spend HK$1.14 million in a lifetime that they could have invested instead to be able to buy a small apartment in the New Territories, according to a new study released by the Faculty of Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The study, based on data on smokers in seven Asia-Pacific jurisdictions, found that smoking costs each smoker in Hong Kong around HK$20,440 a year, the third highest in the region, after Australia and Singapore. 

If a person starts smoking at 18, he or she will spend HK$1.14 million in a lifetime at one pack of cigarettes a day.

If instead of spending that money on cigarettes, they invested it in stocks, they could have accumulated around HK$4.7 million upon their retirement at 60, based on the current 7 percent return rate of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, the study said.

At current prices, that’s enough money to buy a 400 square foot apartment in the New Territories, it added.

Smoking is expensive not only in terms of money spent on cigarettes but also in related medical costs.

Professor Vivian Lee Wing-yan, assistant dean of the university’s School of Pharmacy, said smoking could lead to cardiovascular diseases.

The study found that 90 percent of smokers in Hong Kong are aware of the harmful effects of smoking on their health. Yet the number of smokers in the city has surpassed 640,000.

Lee said she hopes an awareness of the economic costs of smoking would help smokers kick the habit.

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