How much food you can get for the cost of a packet of cigarettes?
A Stuff Report
A packet of cigarettes costs more than it ever has in New Zealand – $35.90 for 20 Marlboro Reds at the supermarket in Wellington.
A series of prices hikes on tobacco that began in 2010 saw the cost of a single cigarette reach a high of nearly $2 this month.
Recently, an Australian grandmother undertook a challenge to see how many “value” supermarket food items she could buy for the cost of a pack of cigarettes.
Spurred by her results, posted to Facebook with the hashtag #nonsmokingchallenge, we decided to undertake the same experiment here in New Zealand and find out just what, materially, your cigarettes are costing you.
We steered generally clear of the priciest fresh items, although our shop did include a pack of family-favourite pork sausages as well as some apples, bananas and versatile potatoes.
We bulked up our trolley’s protein quotient with some shaved ham – necessary with the return of the school lunch – and sliced cheese, as well as a tin of baked beans.
We added tinned tomatoes and frozen peas, alongside a loaf of bread, margarine and rolled oats.
There were two different types of pasta in our trolley, a litre of milk and, because we all need a treat now and then, a packet of biscuits.
All of that for $35.70 – 20 cents less than our final purchase, a packet of Marlboro Reds.
$1.80 a cigarette doesn’t sound much in isolation, but it equates to a loaf of bread a tin of baked beans. Or two 500g packs of pasta, or a pack of chocolate chip bikkies.
Two cigarettes would buy you half a kilo of potatoes and leave enough for a tin of tomatoes.
Say you have a “pack a day” habit. That’s 140 cigarettes a week, or $280 back in your pocket. In some parts of the country, that’s a week’s rent.
There’s a lot else you could do for that sum. At the end of your first smokefree year you could have saved over $14,500 towards a house deposit. You could go on a few really nice holidays.
Our shopping list:
Rolled oats, 750g – $2.79
Baked beans, 400g – $0.80
Chocolate chip biscuits, 250g – $1.89
Loaf wheatmeal toast bread – $1.20
Penne pasta, 500g – $0.95
Spaghetti, 500g – $0.95
Chopped tomatoes, 400g – $0.79
Apples, 561g – $3.39
Bananas, 521g – $1.56
Potatoes, 496g – $1.48
Frozen peas, 750g – $2.99
Tasty cheese slices, 250g – $2.99
Margarine, 500g – $2.99
Shaved ham, 150g – $2.79
Milk, 1L – $2.38
Precooked sausages, 8 pack – $5.77
There is no reason why families cannot afford to feed themselves. It’s all a matter of priorities. Do you continue to bleat that the benefit is not enough, that your kids are going hungry, or do you stop smoking and spend your money MORE wisely?