Rob Stock: Smokes v vapes v fresh air
OPINION: In just two years, Nell Rice saved $5000 by switching from smoking conventional cigarettes to vaping.
Vaping is the term used for puffing away on e-cigarettes, which aren't cigarettes at all. They are electronic devices that deliver nicotine in a vapour.
There's no smoke with e-cigarettes, so vapers aren't exposed to the toxins that cause 95 per cent of smoking-related diseases.
Vaping offers health gains, but most people I know who've quit smoking were motivated to by money.
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There is nothing like a fag-addiction to burn your way through cash, and your ability to save money.
Imagine adding $2500 a year to your KiwiSaver account instead of smoking it!
Of course, if you aren't going to die before your time from smoking-induced cancer, you'll need a decent retirement nest-egg.
Rice works for Cosmic, the country's largest e-cigarette retailer, so she's clearly biased in favour of the product.
Having read Public Health England's report on e-cigarettes, I now share her belief that converting New Zealand's 600,000-odd smokers to vapers would be good for both their health, and their wallets.
I asked Rice to help me cost out the savings that can be made by switching from smoking to vaping.
Making the switch requires a bit of a capital investment.
The "bare minimum" start up cost is $45 for the cheapest e-cigarette device, which includes a battery, charger, and a bottle of e-liquid. That's the cost of a couple of packets of low-end fags.
It's not everybody's ideal set-up, says Rice, but it's a start. A better e-cigarette device can be bought in a month or so using the money saved by not having to buy cigarettes any more.
A $160-a-month "light" (two packs a week) smoking habit, can be replaced by a roughly $38-a-month vaping habit, Rice estimates.
A "moderate" (four packs a week) $320-a-month smoking habit, can be replaced by a $102-a-month vaping habit.
Heavy smokers are likely to need larger, more robust e-cigarettes, and their initial capital investment will be higher.
Yearly savings, on Rice's estimates, would go from $1500 for light smokers, to $5000 for heavy smokers.
E-cigarettes don't appeal to everyone, but New Zealand may soon see "heat not burn" tobacco devices, which, I am told, are closer in taste to smoking.
They are the baby of Big Tobacco, but they do seem to be nowhere near as bad as conventional cigarettes.
I called Countdown to see if it plans to stock e-cigarettes and e-liquid when they become fully legal, hopefully later this year.
The grocery giant wouldn't tell me, but it could hardly carry on selling fags and not offer e-cigarettes and e-liquids, could it?
Supermarkets stocking e-ciggies and e-juice would really send them mainstream, and the price would probably fall.
But while smokers can save by becoming vapers, vapers can save by stopping vaping, switching first from nicotine-heavy e-liquids to nicotine-light ones, and finally to nicotine-free e-liquids.
Then they can put their e-cigarette devices in a bottom drawer, or better still the bin, because vaping is a waste of money too.
Fresh air is better. And it's free.
- Smoking is a waste of money
- Smokers prosper by becoming vapers
- Vapers prosper by quitting vaping