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Senior Health: Money Up in Smoke

By , 5:08 pm on

I love writing about healthy living because I have a 93-year old grandfather I can hug and wish happy birthday every year.  He is still here because he’s led a generally healthy lifestyle.  I say “generally,” because after all, he is human, and has been living a long and rich life.  As they say, he’s had a lot of living in his years, in addition to a lot of years.  He did smoke for a while, but thank goodness, he quit.

Congratulations if you’ve quit smoking! Based on how long ago you quit, here’s what you’ve done for your health, according to the American Cancer Society:

20 minutes: Blood pressure and heart rate have dropped to normal

24 hours: Decreased risk of sudden heart attack

48 hours: Damaged nerves in your mouth and nose begin to heal

2 weeks to 3 months: Total body blood flow improves; walking and breathing is easier; wounds heal more quickly

1-9 months: Your risk of infection drops as your lungs resume mucus clearing action; energy rises; coughing and congestion decline

1 year: Risk of heart disease is cut in half.

5 years: You are half as likely to develop cancer of the mouth, throat, bladder or esophagus as smokers. Risk of lung cancer has fallen by almost 50%

10 years: Your risks for stroke and lung cancer are about the same as someone who never smoked.

15 years: Your risk of heart disease is the same as if you had never smoked.

The American Cancer Society has a lot of interesting information on their website, including calculators which tell you how much smoking costs you per day, week, month, year, or lifetime, as well as how many cigarettes you’ve smoked in your lifetime.  Find the calculator at:

As a non-smoker, I didn’t know how much cigarettes cost, until recently. On Sunday, I saw an ad for cheap cigarettes when driving from Lincoln, NE to Kansas City. The 30-foot tall sign advertised cigarettes [a carton] for $42.99.  A moment later, it said a motel room, for one night, was $39.99.  Hmm.  So if there are 200 cigarettes in a carton, that works out to 21.5 cents per cigarette.  Doesn’t sound like much until you calculate that the average smoker consumes 18.5 cigarettes a day, or 6400 a year, and that costs, if you buy the cheap highway carton I saw, $1376 a year. Most people pay around $1850-1950 a year for their 18.5 cigarettes a day.  If you like expensive shoes, that’s 2 pairs of Christian Louboutins. or about 500 cups of Starbucks coffee. or 2 years of a decent gym membership for one person. At the cheap rate carton and motel rate, that’s a month of motel nights, which includes maid service. If you’ve smoked for 10 years, you’ve spent enough to buy a cheap car.

My grandfather used his cigarette money for investments. What have you done with yours?

Lee Nyberg writes this blog for to spread the word about living well.  Her company, Home Care Assistance, provides care for seniors wherever they call home.  She and her business partner, Amy Harris, bring the safety and security of assisted living to the place most older adults want to keep living: Home. More information can be found at the Omaha website: You can also call to speak to a Care Manager at 402-763-9140.

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