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Smoking Will Ruin Your Retirement

Smoking Will Ruin Your Retirement

Wow, we had a pretty crazy day. There was a fire in our building this morning (Wednesday). Luckily, we live near a fire station and the fire trucks got here very quickly. Since this was a high rise, they pulled out all stops and sent 16 fire engines and trucks over. The firefighters quickly put the fire out, but the whole area was blocked for hours. From the pictures at Oregonian Live, the fire looked like a raging inferno. Our building is made of concrete and the fire is supposed to be contained in a unit when there is a fire. I think it worked out this time because the fire fighters put out the fire so quickly. The windows on the units above were melted and it looks like the curtains could catch fire that way. Thanks goodness for the fire fighters. Also, many units below got soaked and infused with smoke. Quite a few residents will have to find somewhere else to live until their units are fixed. Portland Fire & Rescue said the cause of the fire was smoker’s carelessness. Smoking is a terrible habit and it will ruin your retirement in many different ways.

Cigarettes are expensive

A pack of cigarette costs about $7 in Portland. If you smoke a pack per day, you would spend about $50 per week or $2,600 per year. That’s a lot of money. This habit costs more per month than the sum of our electric bill, life insurance, gym membership, and gasoline. Smokers will think, I can afford $50 per week! However, investing instead of buying cigarettes can pay off big over the long haul.

If you invest $50 per week for 60 years, you’d have over 2 million dollars*. A pack a day sounds a lot more expensive if we put it this way, right? The average near-retirement household has less than $15,000 in their retirement accounts. We are having a retirement saving crisis because people don’t know how to budget and invest.

*I used a conservative 7% ROI in the compound interest calculator.

Personally, I’d rather have 2 million dollars than the pleasure of smoking. Fortunately, I never started smoking so I never had to buy any cigarettes.

Cigarettes will ruin your health

Money is important, but health is even more so. The life expectancy of smokers is at least 10 years shorter than nonsmokers. Every year, more than 480,000 people in the US die from illnesses related to tobacco use. That’s 1 out of 5 deaths in the US. Smoking can cause a ton of health issues and it is not a pleasant way to go.

According to the CDC, smoking can cause cancer and damage nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, hearth, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones. Yikes! A few years ago, one of my friends from Intel got cancer and passed away pretty quickly after the diagnosis. He wasn’t even 60, so he wasn’t that old. Everyone knows smoking cigarette will ruin your health. So why do 45 million plus Americans still smoke cigarettes? It doesn’t make any sense to me. You don’t want to spend your retirement dealing with health problems, right?

Cigarettes will cost society

Cigarette butts are the #1 cause of fire and fire deaths in Portland. The smoker was sent to the hospital due to smoke inhalation, but he will be fine. Luckily, we didn’t have any fatality this time. However, a bunch of people in our building have to find a new place to live for a few weeks or months. The flooring, walls, furniture, computers, clothes, and other personal items will have to be replaced. That’s a huge job. We aren’t affected, but I feel really sorry for my neighbors who are dealing with this. Hopefully, they all have good insurance because each unit will have to pay for their own repairs.

This is a direct effect, but we all are paying for the burden of death, diseases, and disability of smokers. Cigarette smoking generates around $170 billion in annual health care spending in the US. We are all paying into the health insurance and government health programs that are paying for smokers’ treatments. Premature death and disability also cause loss of productivity. My friend could have worked for many more years, but instead, he’s gone.

Secondhand smoking also sucks. There are a lot of smokers in Portland and I don’t want to get sick inhaling their secondhand cigarette smoke. I guess I shouldn’t worry too much because we don’t smoke. We only get secondhand cigarette when we’re walking around. It’s probably okay because we’re outside. It still stinks, though.

Say no to cigarettes

We are teaching our kid to hate smoking and I hope it sticks. I was planning to write a post about inflation this morning, but we got kicked out of our building due to the fire and couldn’t get back for a while. The fire trucks were blocking the garage so I couldn’t bring RB40Jr to his summer day camp. Instead, we spent the day listening to free concerts around town, tried a new food cart, and went to the library. It was a fun day, but I didn’t get anything done. Hence, we have a rant about cigarettes… We’ll get back on track next week.

What do you think about cigarettes? I think it is a terrible habit and it will definitely ruin your retirement. Now I feel a bit guilty about investing in Altria and Philip Morris in our dividend portfolio. 

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 56 comments… add one }
  • Adam and Jane August 15, 2016, 9:02 am

    Smoking can definitely ruin your retirement!. My father used to smoke 2-3 packs a day and he stopped in the mid 90’s but it was too late. He got lung cancer 3 times and got so many rounds of chemo in his late 60’s. He died a painful death by age 69 and NEVER enjoyed retirement.

    Our govt should ban the selling of these cancer sticks but I guess tobacco companies/lobbyist are just too powerful.


  • Chicky Software Engineer August 11, 2016, 8:07 pm

    Smoking is the *ONLY* reason why I haven’t quit my job. Husband is a smoker and we are both software engineers that make pretty good money and we (esp me) are trying to be Mustachians. But because my husband can’t seem to kick the nasty cancer stick habit, I worry about his health and possible medical bills if he got cancer! And that, really is the only reason why I am not retired already. It’s very frustrating! Over the years, I’ve tried so many things to try to get him to quit, I sent him articles about the danger of cancer sticks…. I had a very attainable goal to retire by 40 with 2 school age children, but have been postponing for husband’s health, and financial habits. Sometimes I even wish I have not met DH that made my life so much worse than it could be…..Maybe we should try marriage counseling.

    • retirebyforty August 11, 2016, 9:38 pm

      Sorry to hear that. I hope you work it out somehow. Marriage counseling might help. You should try it. Don’t let it fester because it won’t get better on its own. Good luck!

  • earlyretirementnow August 10, 2016, 7:50 am

    The cause of smoking and not saving enough for retirement is the same: People prefer instant gratification over longer-term goals. I would suspect you don’t find many smokers in the FIRE community.
    Sadly and ironically, many people who smoke will shorten their lifespan so much, they may not even have to plan for a long retirement.

  • andy August 7, 2016, 1:39 pm

    I wouldnt kiss my wife if she smoked…therefore I wouldnt be with her any longer. Or maybe I am just saying this because I know she will never smoke.

  • MrSLM August 7, 2016, 11:24 am

    Glad to hear you guys are alright!

    Totally with you on this, never understood this habit. You’re paying a LOT of money over time to give yourself non-stop breathing and health problems, with a chance of lung cancer. My grandmother passed away from lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking, wouldn’t wish that end on anybody.

  • Finance Solver August 7, 2016, 9:14 am

    Those companies add nicotine to make it addictive and the CEOs of the companies have the courage and the audacity to lie in front of Congress when asked “are cigarettes addictive.” I think Warren Buffet publicly endorsed those companies for having fantastic products and it’s great from an investor’s perspective. I personally have never seen the appeal of smoking, but I’ve been reading that genetics could be a factor in wanting to smoke.

  • Mr. All Things Money August 6, 2016, 9:28 am

    I saw the news in the local news and it looked pretty bad. Glad you guys are okay.

    I don’t know why people still smoke, knowing what kind of health issues it can cause, not to mention to risk to people nearby and to the property. We have a park behind our house and every once in a while I find used cigarette butts. With the dry and hot summer, it’s waiting to start a fire. I absolutely hate cigarettes.

    • retirebyforty August 8, 2016, 12:53 am

      Yes, it could have been a lot worse. The concrete walls and floors really help, but I’m really glad the fire station was so close.

  • MrRIP August 5, 2016, 3:44 pm

    Totally agree!
    I’ve been preaching this since forever. My math was 150 Euro per Month (in Italy) = 1.8K per year = 90K over 50 years = a house at the time of retirement.

    Well, I was not into investments at that time, but even without considering compounding the numbers are scary. Every time a friend complained that he/she was lacking money, while smocking a cigarette, I started showing this simple math. Sadly none needed a solution. It’s easier to complain with something/someone over which you have no control. Else, you’re kind of supposed to take actions…

    Amazing article!

  • STE August 5, 2016, 7:58 am

    Glad to know that you and your son are ok and fully agree that smoking not only cause harm to our health but also cost us ” bomb ” of money if the money spent on smoking being saved and compounded for 20-30 years ,, is huge sum ,, for retirement ,,,cheers

  • beth August 5, 2016, 4:50 am

    Smokes are $25 for a bag of $200 from one of the reservations near my city. Lots of people smoke. Drive past the high school on a nice fall day and see them all.

    Smoking is one of the reasons I have not downsized from my single family home yet. I can’t stand the smell and I would hate to live next to a stinky smoker.

  • Tawcan August 4, 2016, 4:19 pm

    That’s crazy Joe, glad to hear that everything is OK with you guys… but it totally sucks for some of your neighbours that they need to live somewhere else for a few weeks/months. I’ve never smoked and hated the smell. Smoking is just so gross, never understand why people do it. No it’s not cool to smoke.

    During university I lived at a high rise dormitory on campus. During exam times people would often pull the fire alarm for no reason. Eventually many of us just learned to ignore the fire alarm (i.e. put ear plugs and continue studying). One day the fire alarm rang and my dormmate and I decided to ignore it. After about 30 minutes we started smelling smokes. We opened one of the emergency exits and saw a bunch smokes coming up from the stairwell so we decided that it was probably a real fire and it was time to exit the building from the other emergency exit. Walked 14 flights of stairs to get out of the building.

    Turned out someone started a fire accidentally while cooking. A few floors were flooded. I can’t imagine having all your notes and course materials ruined by water during exam time. Ouch!

  • Michael @ Financially Alert August 4, 2016, 4:08 pm

    Good news that you and your son are okay. Better news that you got out and experience some new things while you were out!

    I have never smoked, but I definitely see a shift in our culture. Seems like e-cigs are taking over the younger generation. I think the jury is still out on how harmful it is relative to traditional smoking, but I’d have to imagine it’s a little better. Having said that, I’d never want anything foreign in my children’s bodies.

  • Dividends Down Under August 4, 2016, 3:38 pm

    Glad you’re okay Joe!

    Smoking is horrible and I agree 100% with each of the big downsides you said. Similar to what Martin above said, you have to have access to a good amount of money to be able to keep up the habit in Australia. There are many cheaper things than cigs to do these days.


  • Martin - Get FIRE'd asap August 4, 2016, 2:40 pm

    Ahhhhh, don’t get me started on the subject of smoking. I hate it in every way. I live in an apartment too and can’t stand it when someone in another unit lights up and the smell wafts into ours. I’m surprised at how cheap a pack of cigarettes costs where you are. In Australia the government is trying to tax them out of existence. A pack here will cost you around au$25. How anyone can afford to set fire to that amount of money every day is beyond me.

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:46 pm

      I read that a pack cost $32 in NZ. That’s really expensive. I think it’s a great idea, though. Less cigarette means better health for everyone.

  • Justin August 4, 2016, 1:01 pm

    That’s pretty crazy, but very fortunate that no one was killed in the blaze. Just an inconvenience for you and the others that were booted out of their houses for the day (or for quite a while for the units soaked and smoked).

    I was reading public health stats recently and apparently kids are getting the message. Not a lot are picking up smoking compared to previous years and decades. I bet some will pick up vaping, which comes with it’s own risks (some of which are unknown today) but it seems like vaping is much less likely to cause a fire.

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:45 pm

      It’s great that the kids are not smoking as much now. I don’t know much about vaping, but it sounds like a bad habit too.

  • Pennypincher August 4, 2016, 12:07 pm

    Wow. Sorry to hear of this, so close to your own home. Thank God for firefighters and insurance.
    Someone smoking nearby can really ruin a nice picnic, meal, or a walk. We always try to get away from that person fast. Secondhand smoke kills pets too. So much of the smoking seems like rude behavior to me=not considering the people around you.
    Again, sorry about the issue w/your building. Surprised to hear smoking is such a problem in Portland. Ugh.

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:44 pm

      I’m very thankful to our firefighters. They were great. Yes, it seems smoking is much more common here in Portland than CA in general. That’s how it feels to me anyway.

  • The Money Commando August 4, 2016, 11:19 am

    I guess the thing that makes smoking so hard to quit is the same thing that makes tobacco stocks such a good investment – tobacco is addictive.

    I think by this point EVERYBODY knows that smoking is not just bad for you, but it will kill you. I doubt that anybody who is a smoker today say that they are happy that they smoke and are glad they started. The reality is that they just can’t quit.

    I’ve been wrestling with the question of whether this makes investing in tobacco stocks immoral. I’ve decided that I don’t think it does. After all, owning a share of the stock doesn’t help or hurt the company. Phillip Morris is going to send the profits earned by each share of stock to somebody, whether that person is you or a different investor. Even if every non-smoker decided to sell the stock, the price would decline and either another company would buy Phillip Morris or PM would just buy back their shares at a ridiculously cheap price. The company will continue to sell cigarettes to smokers.

    The upside of owning the stock is that you can decide to do something useful with the money. I’m toying with the idea of donating some part of my profits from tobacco stocks (say, 50%) to a charity like the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society. Once I hit financial independence then we can ramp that up to 100% of our tobacco profits.

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:40 pm

      Right, tobacco is very addicting. That’s why it’s best not to start. Donation is a great idea. I’ll think about that.

  • Michelle August 4, 2016, 10:15 am

    Cigarettes are horrible. My father passed away from lung cancer.

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:47 pm

      That’s horrible. Sorry to hear that.

  • ESI Money August 4, 2016, 9:13 am

    I can’t agree more!

    Nothing good comes from smoking!

    My parents smoked the entire time I was growing up and I can’t imagine how I survived. They no longer smoke but my mom in particular has paid a high price for smoking — cancer a few times and many other health ailments.

    Certainly not worth it…

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:47 pm

      Sorry to hear that. It’s good that you’re doing well, though.

  • Dan August 4, 2016, 8:28 am

    It’s a wonder anyone under the age of 30 is a smoker because it’s not like people in that age group saw doctors smoking on tv or anything. People under 30 have had it drilled into their head how bad it is for them.

    Along similar lines: I’ve cut down on drinking 2-3 drinks per night to 0-2 drinks per night. The per year savings (depending on where you live and what you drink) are in the $400-1200 range. If you had put those savings (adjusted for inflation and reinvesting dividends) into the stock of Constellation Brands or Brown Forman over the past 30 years you would be a multimillionaire.

    • [email protected] Smarter Decisions August 4, 2016, 8:29 am

      Constellation Brands is a few blocks from me! CRAZY how big they’ve become!

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:18 am

      I cut down to drinking on special occasions only. It’s bad for my triglyceride level.
      And alcohol seems to be getting very expensive lately. 🙁

  • Karen B. August 4, 2016, 7:29 am

    Glad your family came out OK. About 47 years ago, when my husband and I was just first dating, I casually asked “What would you do if I smoked” , as I did not smoke, was just trying to feel him out, his reply, which I remember was, “if you want to take a dollar bill, roll it up and light it up and burn it, fine, but, I think it is stupid”. To this day, when I see someone smoking I just see a dollar bill lit up and burning.
    (Keep in mind my husband and I lived our teenage years in the late 50’s and thru the 60’s, where it was cool to put anything in your mouths, however, my husband always saw all of that as waste of money. He and I were way ahead of our peer group. We might not have did everything right, but we did that, and we saved and lived modestly, now my problem is trying to teach him that we can loosen up, and relax and don’t take the things happening in the world so seriously, we just need to enjoy this upcoming 10 years.)

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:16 am

      Thank you for sharing. You were really ahead of your time, that’s great. Enjoy your retirement. Hopefully, your husband can relax a bit. You have earned it.

  • Kate August 4, 2016, 7:22 am

    I’m pretty sure the affected homeowners won’t be responsible for the damages to their units. Their insurance companies would most likely go after the homeowner who caused the fire, to ensure his/her insurance pays the costs so they don’t have to cover the claims of the other homeowners. I’m not well versed in insurance, but this is my guess since the fire was due to negligence and could have been prevented.

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:15 am

      I don’t know either. Our policy only covers the interior of our unit. I’m sure it’s the same for most of the homeowners. The policy won’t be enough to cover a bunch of damage from different units. I’ll keep an eye on it.

  • Laura G. Sweeney, EdD August 4, 2016, 6:49 am

    Thank you very much for discouraging others from smoking. Not only do smokers put themselves in danger but also others. I know it must be very difficult to kick the habit. I am trying to convince my 20-year-old daughter to quit smoking, and I do believe she will eventually understand how dangerous smoking can be to one’s health. We’re glad you are doing well! We should all honor firefighters and police across the globe for what they must do to save people when there is a fire!

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:14 am

      Good luck with your daughter. How did she get started? I want to prevent my kid from starting at all. Tobacco is really addicting.

  • Dividend Growth Investor August 4, 2016, 6:27 am

    I am glad you were fine Joe, and you had no damage.

    Smoking is pretty bad for your health. But there are a lot of other things that are bad for your health such as sitting in front of a computer all day, eating unhealthy/greasy food, drinking too much carbonated drinks or drinking too much alcohol.

    I own tobacco stocks like Altria and Phillip Morris International, and these have provided some excellent returns. In fact, Altria was the best performing stock in the S&P 500 between 1957 and 2003, compounding money at 20%/year. This turns $1 into $4,600 over that time period. If you invested that $50/week in tobacco stocks, rather than cigarettes, you would have much more than $2 million if the rates of return are higher.

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:13 am

      Thanks. Yes, there are a ton of things that are bad for us, but we still do them. It’s tough to avoid those vices.
      I like Altria and PM too. They are great dividend payers. But do I really want to support big tobacco? I will have to think about it more.

  • Jon @ Be Net Worthy August 4, 2016, 5:53 am

    It’s amazing that people still smoke these days with all of the health information that is out about the horrors.

    If you told people that they should put $7 into a retirement account each day for the future, they would say you were crazy, yet they will buy a pack each day no problem!

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:11 am

      It amazing how short sight people are… Saving $7 a day is so much better for you.

      • Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes August 4, 2016, 4:01 pm

        I think most smokers are well aware of the cost and the health issues. I don’t think that has much to do with why they smoke.

        Addiction plays a part and socializing. Many people start smoking because it’s a social thing they do with friends. After awhile of course it becomes addiction. They *can’t* stop.

        My next door neighbor is an accountant, and she smokes. We hate the smell of the smoke that wafts over to our house…but have to put up with it. She must know how much it costs….she’s an accountant afterall.

  • sendaiben August 4, 2016, 5:39 am

    Someone in our building smokes in the evening, and now in the summer with the windows open we get wafts of evil-smelling smoke every twenty minutes…

    Haven’t figured out who it is yet, but when I do… 😉

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:10 am

      Sorry to hear that. Your building probably don’t have any smoking rules, right?

  • Apathy Ends August 4, 2016, 5:29 am

    The smell alone is to much for me, thankfully they banned smoking from all bars shortly after I turned 21.

    Minnesota taxes the crap out of tobacco – as a non smoker I am all for i

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:09 am

      I used to hate all the smoking when I went out. Oregon just banned smoking in bars in 2009. That’s way after I stopped going to bars and clubs.

  • [email protected] Smarter Decisions August 4, 2016, 5:25 am

    I’m so glad you’re safe and you are right on every point here. There is nothing good about cigarettes. We also find that the people who can’t afford them at all are the ones who are smoking more of them than ever! As a landlord who owns two 4-unit buildings – we almost had a nightmare last fall. We had a tenant who “only smoked outside” (who was lying…) leave a smoldering butt in a garbage can when he went off to work. Luckily a great tenant who lives across the hall smelled something and called the fire department. There was no real fire – but there was definitely smoldering ashes with some smoke. We terminated his lease the next day and now we don’t allow smoking on the property at all. It’s an incredibly selfish habit too and dangerous to others, not just the person smoking. (Thanks for the rant and for allowing more ranting back!)

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:07 am

      It is so easy to start a fire with carelessness. People here can’t smoke in the common area. They can smoke inside their unit only if the smoke is contained there. A lot of people still flick cigarette butts off the balcony and that’s a big fire danger as well. Some people just don’t listen. Good idea with no smoking at your property. Thankfully, none of our tenants smoke.

  • Stefanie O'Connell August 4, 2016, 5:16 am

    I’ve never touched a cigarette, and second hand smoke drives me NUTS! I’m honestly amazed cigarettes are still legal with all of their health hazards, not to mention FIRE hazards. Glad to hear you’re all safe.

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:05 am

      Thanks. I hate cigarettes too. It’s so bad for you.

  • The Green Swan August 4, 2016, 4:18 am

    Sorry to hear about the fire! Fortunately your unit was ok and you won’t have to move out, but it is a shame for those folks that do. I’d be furious! The inconvenience you and the other occupants had to deal with…what a bummer. Glad nobody was injured, but the smoker probably won’t receive a warm welcome home from the neighbors…

    I’m sure that was a valuable lesson for RB Jr. I don’t understand why so many people smoke either, but hopefully each generation it is fewer and fewer.

    And I don’t mind the rant, I’m in pretty strong agreement with you on all your points. Thanks!

    • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 10:04 am

      I’m glad nobody was injured too. It was a good lesson for Jr. He already does not like the smell of tabacco and we’ll use this fire as an example for years to come.

    • Pennypincher August 5, 2016, 4:34 am

      I would be furious as well!

  • Thias @It Pays Dividends August 4, 2016, 4:15 am

    I’m with you – I just don’t get it. With the amount of research showing the downsides of it, I just can’t understand why anyone would ever start and risk their life, well-being, and savings on something that brings harm to you.

    Glad the fire was contained and put out quickly!

    • Fiscally Free August 4, 2016, 7:36 am

      I completely agree with you.
      Given everything we know about how bad smoking is, how does anyone start?

      • retirebyforty August 4, 2016, 9:57 am

        Kids are not very smart. The best we can do is to keep telling them that it’s bad for their health. Hopefully, our kid will be too busy to pick up a lot of bad habits. We don’t smoke so at least we are good role models.

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