Anthony Genovese quit smoking last August. Since then, he's saved more than $1,500.

"The savings are great but what is most important is the long-term benefit," says Genovese, based in Woodbridge, Ont. "The savings didn't even come to mind when I decided to quit. The health benefits were first priority."

In terms of personal finance, it's a great idea to quit smoking, says Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Canada-wide, there's about $4.4 billion per year in health care costs because of smoking, says Cunningham.

"But the total economic cost is $17 billion," if you include healthcare costs, worker absenteeism, lost productivity and foregone income due to mortality among other factors, he says.

Kicking the habit: one number at a time
The Cost of Smoking Calculator on The Canadian Cancer Society's website shows that a smoker who smokes a pack per day (and spends $9.00 per pack) is spending $3,287 every year. But Cunningham says it's important to remember that people often underestimate how much they really smoke.

And there are higher life insurance premiums for smokers, says Cunningham. "Insurance companies know that people who smoke die earlier, so that's why they charge a higher premium."

But it's hard to put a "value" on pain and suffering, says Cunningham, offering the example of a child who has lost a parent in their 40s due to lung cancer or someone with emphysema who is unable to get out of bed because they can't breathe properly.

Every year, smoking kills 37,000 Canadians. But it doesn't just kill smokers: second-hand smoke is harmful to family members and children, says Cunningham. If you need a reason to butt out beyond yourself, keep in mind that heart attacks and lung cancer are caused by second-hand smoke.

Quitting cold turkey If you want to quit cold turkey, here are some tips from the Canadian Lung Association, or CLA:

  • Don't smoke, not even a little
  • Get rid of your cigarettes and ashtrays (out of sight, hopefully out of mind)
  • Avoid people or situations where you will be tempted to smoke
  • Go for a walk instead of a smoke
  • Be positive — believe in yourself and your plan
  • Remind yourself that once withdrawal is over, you'll feel better than you have in years.