A colleague of mine recently wrote a piece on the costs of smoking e-cigarettes, and I think the information is worth sharing.

The original article written by Joyce Lash, an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach human sciences specialist in family finance, can be accessed at https://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/moneytips/2019/03/05/e-cigarettes/ or continue reading below for the highlights.

It’s strange to hear marketing promoting the use of e-cigarettes. Legislation has restricted campaigns promoting tobacco products for many years. A frequently-used e-cig marketing approach targets smokers who feel their habit has forced them into self-imposed isolation to hide their habit or protect others from second hand exposure. Websites declare the product is for individuals who already smoke, offering them a safer alternative.

Nicotine is an addictive substance and e-cigarette ads or commercials clearly state its presence. E-cigarette use often leads to use of tobacco products. Among individuals who smoke, nine out of 10 started as teens.

A 2016 report by the Surgeon General’s Office pointed to data indicating a rapid increase in the use of e-cigarettes — also known as “vaping” — by teens and young adults.

In research designed to measure whether youth understand the risks, the findings clearly indicate that teens and young adults view e-cigarettes as safe. Flavor options are attractive, and natural curiosity are reasons given to try e-cigarettes.

Tobacco product use in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe for adolescents.

Lifelong addiction is costly, not only in health terms, but also in financial terms.

E-cigarette pods, equivalent to a pack of cigarettes, cost $4-$5. The device to use the pods is around $35.

When a substance is addictive, as e-cigarettes are, users will typically increase consumption over time.

This is a bonus for the companies selling the products. Even with low use — two pods a week — the habit will cost $500 a year. Running a calculation of what $500 a year could become if it was saved provides an argument against vaping. A modest $50 deposited monthly into an account earning 3 percent a year with annual compounding — I’m being intentionally conservative here — from the age of 16 until age 65 would result in cash assets of $65,000.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to make this example exotic enough to hook individuals on saving instead of vaping.


Lori Hayungs is an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach human sciences and family life program specialist.