Cite this article

NIDA. (2014, May 7). What Is “The Real Cost” of Using Tobacco?. Retrieved from

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Sara Bellum
May 7 2014
Fact - 9 out of 10 smokers started before the age of 18

There’s no doubt that smoking is expensive—a pack of cigarettes costs just under $5 in Kentucky and more than $14 in New York City. Check out this calculator that shows how much smoking cigarettes can cost you each day, week, month, and year.

But the real cost is much worse.

Check it out: This very cool new website, The Real Cost, highlights that smoking can cost:

  • Your mouth: Smoking causes bad breath, stained teeth, and tooth loss.
  • Your skin: You may find an older-looking face in the mirror thanks to premature wrinkles.
  • Your lungs: Smoking “stunts” your lungs, or delays their development.
  • Your self-control: It gets harder and harder to resist with each cigarette smoked.
  • Your life: Lifelong smokers die an average of 13 years earlier than nonsmokers.

Brought to us by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The Real Cost makes it really (really!) clear just how our health suffers, not to mention our independence, when we get hooked on tobacco products. And since it’s extremely hard to stop smoking once you’ve started, this information should help teens to decide for themselves never to start the habit in the first place.

Tobacco use almost always starts in the teen years, and the younger you are when you start, the more difficult it is to quit. Just a few cigarettes a month can lead to cravings. Three out of four teens who say they will stop smoking in 5 years, don’t.

There’s a reason why the tobacco industry spent about $8.4 billion in 2011 on advertising—nearly $23 million a day.

Tell us in comments: Do any of these real costs matter to you? What “real cost” stops you from smoking cigarettes?

If you or a friend is ready to quit smoking, chat live with a quit expert, call 1-877-448-7848, or visit Smokefree Teen.

Still not convinced the price of smoking is high enough to quit? Check out Drugs + Your Body, an interactive tool showing tobacco’s health effects on your lungs, skin, and mouth.