Media Release

Up in smoke: Aussies spend $14 billion a year on cigarettes

    • 2.8 million Aussies are daily smokers
    • Smokers pay more than twice as much for life insurance
    • How to use your insurance to help you quit

16 January, 2019, Sydney, Australia – Australians regularly going out for a “smoke-o” are costing themselves billions of dollars a year, according to new research by Finder, the site that compares virtually everything.

Research released this month from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)1 shows 13.8% of Aussie adults consider themselves daily smokers, lighting up half a pack a day on average.

Finder has crunched the numbers and found that’s 2.8 million people spending $5,237 each a year on ciggies, on average.

Angus Kidman, editor-in-chief at Finder, said the cost of smoking goes much deeper than the hip pocket.

“It’s not just the price of a packet of cigarettes but also more expensive insurance premiums and the cost to your health,” he said.

Smoking half a pack a day costs smokers just over $100 a week, based on a 20-pack of Winfield Blues, currently retailing for $28.70.

Smokers also pay at least twice as much for their monthly life insurance premiums, according to Finder.

A 35-year-old male smoker will pay $80.07 per month on average for an $800,000 life insurance policy, compared to a non-smoker who will only pay $38.80 for the same policy.

In 2017-18 the proportion of adults who have never smoked had increased to 55.7% and there’s been a 0.7% drop in smokers over the past three years, according to the ABS.

Kidman said prices could be convincing more smokers to quit.

“Smoking half a pack a day will cost you $436 a month and $40 a month more in life insurance premiums. That’s over $5,700 per year you could be saving if you gave up the smokes,” he said.

According to the statistics, tobacco smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of death and disease in Australia with smoking claiming the lives of almost 19,000 Australians a year 2.

Kidman said insurers usually require members to have given up smoking for at least 12 months before they classify them as a non-smoker.

“Insurance companies generally don't differentiate between an occasional smoker and a pack-a-day smoker.

“If you do smoke, it pays to shop around for life insurance. Some providers charge up to 134% more if you’re a smoker,” he said.

1http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4364.0.55.001Main+Features12017-18?OpenDocument
2http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2017-18~Main%20Features~Smoking~85

How much life insurance can cost for smokers

Provider Non-smoker Smoker % difference
AIA Priority Protection $31.81 $74.45 134%
AMP Elevate $37.36 $74.02 98%
Asteron Life Complete $38.50 $81.22 111%
Clearview LifeSolutions $38.79 $76.71 98%
TAL Accelerated Protection $39.95 $82.55 107%
MLC Insurance $40.13 $91.49 128%
OnePath OneCare $41.72 $82.53 98%
Zurich Wealth Protection $42.10 $77.62 84%
AVERAGE PRICE $38.80 $80.07 106%

Source: finder.com.au comparison of $800,000 life insurance policies for a 35-year-old male professional in NSW, Dec 2018.


How health insurance can help you quit

– Approved quit smoking programs. Pull out your extras policy and check whether you have cover for programs designed to help you quit smoking. Depending on your insurer, these can include Allen Carr's Easyway, Smokenders and UIT Foundation.
– Nicotine replacement therapies. You may also be able to claim for nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, gum, lozenges and inhalers. If these don't work for you, you may be able to claim for services like hypnotherapy under your broader health program cover.
–Psychologists. Medicare rebates are available for treatment by registered psychologists under the Australian Government's Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative, which provides assistance to those with drug use disorders, including nicotine addiction.
–Medical practitioners. You can claim a Medicare rebate for consultations with medical practitioners who specialise in tobacco treatment.

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For further information

Disclaimer

The information in this release is accurate as of the date published, but rates, fees and other product features may have changed. Please see updated product information on finder.com.au's review pages for the current correct values.

About us

Every month 2.2 million unique visitors turn to Finder to save money and time, and to make important life choices. We compare virtually everything from credit cards, phone plans, health insurance, travel deals and much more.

Our free service is 100% independently-owned by two Australians: Fred Schebesta and Frank Restuccia. Since launching in 2006, Finder has helped Aussies find what they need from 1,800+ brands across 100+ categories.

We continue to expand and launch around the globe, and now operate in the United States and the United Kingdom. For further information visit www.finder.com.au.

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