If you decide to give up smoking today, there will not only be huge benefits for your health but also your bank balance. But how much does your habit cost you? Our team at Souqalmal.com has done the sums for you.

Smoking has traditionally been a popular hobby in the UAE. A 2012 YouGov survey revealed that 35 percent of the population smokes, with a fifth of those polled smoking every day. Five times as many males smoke every day as compared to females, with Arab expats emerging as the most nicotine-dependent segment of the population.

But change is afoot. In recent years the government has implemented increasingly stringent smoking bans and raised the price of cigarettes to try to deter smokers from indulging in their unhealthy habit.

Earlier this year, it became mandatory for all cigarette packets sold in the UAE to feature grisly images highlighting smoking’s killer qualities, a way of reminding smokers of the risk to their health every time they light up.

Interestingly, 42 per cent of respondents in the study claimed that this graphic imagery would do little to deter them, but 31 per cent claimed that a significant hike in the cost of cigarettes would encourage them to stop.

And the financial cost of being a smoker cannot be underestimated. Because cigarettes are still relatively cheap in the UAE – in spite of a AED1 price hike last year, a packet of Marlboro Lights will still only set you back Dh10 – smokers forget that their habit is a daily drain on their resources and kill their savings.

AED10 may not sound like much, but over the course of a year, a 20 a day habit adds up to AED3,650 while a 40 a day habit will set you back AED7,300.

Over the course of a lifetime, it comes to a pretty little packet that could otherwise be stashed in a savings account in the bank.

And if a smoker is thinking of leaving the UAE anytime soon to live in Europe or the US, they will have to start paying a small fortune for their habit. In the UK, for example, the average price for a pack of 20 is currently around AED43.

Smokers will also feel the financial sting when it comes to insurance. Most people in the UAE are lucky enough to receive medical cover through their employers, which means that their smoking habits are not taken into consideration. This is a fortunate escape and not one that they will enjoy in other parts of the world.

When it comes to private life insurance premiums, however, there is no avoiding the severe financial repercussions of being a smoker.

Let’s look at a European 40-year-old male taking out $1 million worth of life insurance and $500,000 of critical illness cover over a 20-year “pay as you go” life-term policy. The annual premiums for a non-smoker would be $4,000 while premiums for a smoker would be $US7,000. Over the course of 20 years, the smoker would end up paying a whopping $US60,000 more.

If the same individual took out a whole-of-life policy, the smoker would end up paying US$220,000 more than the non-smoker over the course of their lifetime.  Do the conversion and that’s almost AED1 million.

It is worth noting that smokers have to quit for a full year before most insurance companies consider them as non-smokers. And if someone has wrongfully declared that they are a non-smoker and gets caught out, the insurance company has the right not to pay out.

Bottom line, this is one instance where it pays to quit – and the sooner the better.