Kicking the butt is not only good for your health, but as it turns out your pocket as well, say a team of Australian researchers. The boffins, from the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer in Victoria, found that giving up smoking helps people stop worrying about living with financial stress, such as difficulty paying household bills and going without meals because of a shortage of money.
Lead researcher Mohammad Siahpush and colleagues based their research on records that included data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey from 2001 to 2005. As a part of their study they asked 5,699 "ever smokers" (quitters, ex-smokers or current smokers) about their smoking habits and whether in the past six months they had a problem paying a bill because of shortage of money. Of the ever smokers, 55.1 percent were quitters.
The researchers found that a smoker who quits could expect to have about a 25 percent lower chance of financial stress. While 71 percent of current smokers said they had experienced financial stress, only 49.6 percent of quitters did. Siahpush said his previous research has shown that heavier smokers have more financial stress than those who smoke less, which might also be due to the cost of health conditions linked to smoking.
The researchers concluded their findings should give added incentives for smokers to quit and have potential for use in antismoking campaigns and by smoking cessation services to point out more benefits of quitting. "About one-third of smokers in Australia, and over one-fourth in the U.S., say they have spent money on cigarettes in the past six months that they think would be better spent on household essentials such as food," said Siahpush.
Claire Mullins, vice president of communications at the American Lung Association of Maryland, said this tactic, in fact, is already in use. "In trainings, we usually mention the weekly, monthly and annual cost of cigarettes. Sometimes it helps to bring up the cost of cigarettes versus the cost of a cessation course or nicotine replacement therapy when individuals express concern about the cost of quitting," she said.
The study appears in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health.