The Cost of Smoking in Singapore – In Terms Of Starbucks Coffees & iPhones
As a non-smoker with super sensitive sinuses, I’m glad that the legal age for smoking cigarettes in Singapore was recently raised to 19 (effective Jan 2019). I’m even happier that this move is part of a 3-year plan to eventually set the minimum age requirement to 21 years old.
And personal biases aside, the only good thing about smoking is how supposedly “shiok” it feels (like I would know, haha). In terms of the health and financial costs, smoking is reeeeally bad and expensive.
Here’s how much it costs to smoke in Singapore.
Note: Just to be clear, we are not sponsored by the Health Promotion Board. (But HPB, if you want to pay us, please send us an email. We will accept. #JKbutnotreally)
Cost of smoking in Singapore
|Duration||Cost if you smoke 1 pack a day|
Note: The above is calculated assuming 30 days in 1 month and 365 days in 1 year.
I asked around, and the general consensus is that Marlboro Gold is one of the most commonly smoked cigs in Singapore. It costs $14.10 per pack of 20.
Before last year’s 10% hike in excise duties on tobacco products (effective 19 Feb 2018), a Marlboro pack only costed $13. Assuming you smoke 1 pack per day, that’s how much you’ve been spending.
Expensive, hor? $5k in a year is a lot of money – it’s like a 1.5 month salary bonus for many first jobbers!
… But that’s hardly a good enough comparison for you to feel the pinch, right? So now, let’s have a look at how much it costs to smoke in Singapore – measured in terms of other popular commodities.
|Duration||Cost||What you can buy|
|1 day||$14.10||2 cups of Starbucks cold brew (venti), a weekend movie ticket, or 5 hours of karaoke|
|1 week||$98.70||Anytime Fitness gym membership|
|1 month||$423||A pair of tickets to Bangkok, or 3 years GrabClub membership|
|1 year||$5,146.50||A nose job, 2 X iPhone XS Max (512GB), or a Chanel classic mini flap bag|
Give up smoking for 1 day and you could buy …
2 cups of Starbucks cold brew (venti)
$14.10 a day is enough to pay for lunch (or several lunches, if you eat cai png).
If you have a basic caffeine addiction and need a daily dose of Starbucks cold brew, this cigarette money is enough to afford you 2 venti cups of it.
In ONE day.
A movie ticket (and maybe even popcorn)
Alternatively, you could go for a movie. If you go on a weekday – when tickets are $8.50 – you’ll even have spare change for popcorn.
Weekends also can lah, but tickets are dramatically more expensive ($12.50 to $13.50) so you might need to get your snacks from Valu$.
5 hours worth of karaoke at Ten Dollar Club
But to get the most bang for your buck, spend your day’s ciggie budget on karaoke. At Ten Dollar Club, it’s only $12.90 per pax for 5 hours of singing – and that’s during peak hours (weekends and weekday evenings).
That price comes with a minimum 3 to 4 pax caveat, so you might as well get your smoking buddies to join in your quitting movement.
Keep at it, and continue for a week and you can pay for…
Your monthly Anytime Fitness membership fee
Assuming you stop buying a pack a day for 30 days, you’ll save $98.70 a week. That’s enough to cover the monthly membership fee at Anytime Fitness.
Want to stretch that money for longer? That 100 bucks can last 3 months if you opt for a cheaper, community centre gym (around $30/month).
Hold out for a month, and you can afford…
3 years of the basic GrabClub All Access Pass
Okay, so if you’re on a 30-day month, you’ll save $423, which is short a few dollars.
But all you need is a 31-day month and your savings will be enough to pay for 3 years of your GrabClub All Access Pass ($431.64).
A pair of tickets to Bangkok
A round trip for two costs around $200 per pax, which means if you kick the habit for a month, you’ll be able to fly to Bangkok.
Yup, you can trade those sticks for well deserved vacay – not bad, huh?
Tahan some more. Quit for 1 year and you can buy…
A nose job (rhinoplasty)
$5k is not quite enough for a boob job, but 1 year of kicking the habit can buy you a nose job. Rhinoplasty surgery typically costs around $4,000 to $5,000 in Singapore.
Two iPhone XS Max (512GB)
We’re always complaining about how Apple is extorting our money because iPhones are so damn expensive, but if you save on cigs for a year, you can actually buy 2 of the latest iPhones.
Yup – and we mean the most expensive, iPhone XS Max 512GB model ($2,329).
A Chanel Classic Mini Flap
In fact, with $5k, you can literally waltz into Chanel and pick up a Classic mini flap bag ($4,760).
If you don’t mind a preloved one, you can probably even get the iconic 2.55 medium on Reebonz Closets or Carousell.
Or even better yet…
You could invest the money you saved from quitting smoking.
$400+ a month is decent savings – in fact, $500 is the minimum amount required for most investments.
With an extra $500/month, you can consider the good ol’ Singapore Savings Bonds, exchange-traded funds and/or other regular savings plans.
Singapore Savings Bonds
If you’re super risk-averse, go for the former. As its name suggests, the SSB are government bonds, which means you’re kind of lending money to the Singapore government.
In addition to having no lock-in period, it offers good returns (the interest rate hovers around 2% for the first year) with virtually zero risk (because gahmen, mah).
Of course, the longer your tenure the more returns you get, but there’s no penalty for early withdrawal anyway.
For ETFs, you can consider the popular Straits Times Index ETF. It’s an “easy” beginner investment channel, with average annual returns of 3% to 6%.
It’s great for beginners because it offers relatively low fees & charges, and gives you exposure to blue-chip stocks. Plus, it’s super easy to buy and sell STI ETF shares whenever you need.
Regular Savings Plans
Lastly, you can consider a regular savings plan. These use dollar-cost averaging to invest a fixed amount of funds into shares or unit trusts every month.
There are currently 4 RSPs in Singapore (POSB Invest-Saver, OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan, POEMS Share Builders Plan and Maybank Kim Eng Monthly Investment Plan) and the minimum amount required is as low as $100/month.
With so much more to do with your money, will you consider quitting smoking? Tell us in the comments below.