Rejected column

This column was rejected by one of the publications for which I write. I won’t get into the reason why, other than to say it had nothing to do with the quality of the piece. Rather than let this sit on my C: drive forever, I thought I would share it on my site. It’s not funny – but it’s true. – Joe

A look at the real cost of smoking
Are you a regular cigarette smoker? By regular I mean you smoke after you wake up. You smoke in the car. You smoke on break. You smoke at lunch. You smoke after dinner. You smoke when you drink. You can’t quit. You are addicted.

Here’s the part where you expect me to say, “Smoking is bad. You shouldn’t smoke. It will kill you.” I’m not going to say that. You’re a grown-up. You know that already. What I am going to share with you is the short-term economic cost of your decision to smoke.

These figures were calculated using a tool at

10 cigarettes per day at $3.00 a pack for one year: $547.50

* For $547.50 you can fill a 15-gallon gas tank with $4.75-a-gallon gas 7.7 times. That’s “free” gas for two months if you fill up once a week.

* For $547.50 you can fly roundtrip from Los Angeles to Honolulu on Northwest Airlines this October and still have enough money to buy the first round of Mai Tais at the hotel bar.

* For $547.50 you can buy a 16-gigabyte iPhone for yourself and an eight-gigabyte iPhone for someone you love.

10 cigarettes per day at $3.00 a pack for 10 years: $5,475.00

* For $5,475 the median household can pay off its credit card debt of $1,900 and still have $3,575 to invest in a Roth or traditional IRA.

* For $5,475 you can fly first class from Los Angeles to Paris roundtrip in October on Continental and still have $1,630 for shopping on the famed Avenue Montaigne.

* For $5,475 you can buy a Pioneer 50-inch high-definition plasma flat-screen television from Best Buy.

10 cigarettes per day at $3.00 a pack for 30 years: $16,425

* Investing $547.50 a year for 30 years – or $16,425 total – in stocks, indexes or mutual funds that yield an average of 10 percent annually would net you – with compound interest – $108,620 after 30 years.

* For $16,425 you could buy a Harley Davidson Dyna Street Bob. You also could buy a Mini Cooper that requires only $2,275 financing.

* For $16,425 a state resident can purchase a four-year education at California State University-Los Angeles for his or her child and still have $3,097 for books and transportation.

If you’re struggling to quit smoking, try this. In addition to whatever program you are using – the patch, cold turkey, etc. – take whatever amount of money you spent on cigarettes per week and throw it in a jar. When you get discouraged, go to your jar and make a withdrawal. Go see a movie. Invest in your future. Buy a gift for someone.

Having a tangible record of your battle might lessen your burden. As might the prospect of sipping Mai Tais in Hawaii.