Despite all the taxes and laws passed around our happiest vice, cigarettes continue to sell well. Once upon a time cigarettes were associated with glamour. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Becall smoked cigarettes in the sexiest encounter ever. As "Slim" in To Have and Have Not, Becall suggests to Bogart, "If you need me just whistle, you know how to whistle don't you. . . ." The two dated and married after meeting on the set, and later Humphrey Bogart died of cancer associated with his smoking.

In the years since Film Noir characters are no longer routinely cast as smokers. Generally unless a character is a bad guy, a psycho or very nervous they are no longer portrayed in Hollywood as smokers. A notable exception in Avatar, is the character played by Sigouney Weaver. It seemed an odd juxtaposition for the director to make a scientist interested in trees and anthropology a smoker. However, the high cost of cigarettes might be a metaphor for how much money a scientist would make.

When I started smoking in the 1970's a pack of cigarettes could be had for less than a dollar and purchased from a vending machine. These vending machines were located anywhere and everywhere making a cigarette addiction simple for a minor to acquire. Back in the day, parents sent their kids to the corner market to purchase cigarettes or tobacco. If there was an age limit, it wasn't enforced. When I started smoking the legal age in the state where I lived was only 16. Since a lot of 16 year olds didn't have ID anyway, it would not have been hard for an enterprising 12 or 14 year old to purchase their own pack.

Slowly but surely the cost of cigarettes kept rising. It's a popular tax to propose because non-smokers will vote for it. A few days ago, in Florida, I saw a vending machine with cigarettes and they were $7.00 for a pack, not a carton, for a pack! If you are smoking a pack a day that adds up to $217 a month or $2,604 a year. That's about the same as a car payment, or half the cost of health insurance for a healthy adult. In a couple of years it would be enough money to use as a down payment on a house. Here in California my friend and her husband were pack a day smokers each and spent well over $7,500 in cigarettes last year.

The high cost of cigarettes includes health costs. Smokers get sick more often than non-smokers and often their colds last longer. They tend to have hacking coughs. My former husband, who smoked only half a pack in a day, suffered from migraine headaches, low body weight, and thinning bones. He had trouble sleeping, trouble waking up, and was in general in poor health. He went to more doctors more often then myself or my son who were non-smokers at the time. His lack of taste, which I attributed to his smoking, made him a poor eater, and he developed ulcers as well. You may question the direct connection between his health problems and his smoking, but there was no doubt of the indirect connection. His over all lack of interest in caring for himself began with his choice to continue smoking.

There are other costs. Clothing is often destroyed either by cigarette burns and dropping ash, or smudges from the dirty filters. Clothing smells strongly when owned by a chronic smoker and must be dry cleaned more often. Even if the clothing is machine washable, you spend more on laundry boosters and fragrances and add ins to combat the very distinct and unpleasant odor of smoking. Not just your clothes but the house and vehicles of smokers smell strongly. We spent over a thousand dollars an ionic air freshener to keep our house saleable in a weak real estate market. If you buy disposable air fresheners, the cost would be even higher because you will have to endlessly replace them. Smokers pay more for their health insurance itself and their life insurance. Sometimes health insurance is not even available by the time they need it. My former husband couldn't get coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Pre-existing conditions are bound to come up if you have smoked all your life. Life insurance gets hard to find the older you get the more years you have smoked. You can try lying about it to get coverage. I wouldn't recommend lying, because if after years of paying premiums, the fraud is discovered, the company may revoke coverage anyway. When smokers go to re-sell a vehicle, if it smells very strongly they will have a harder time unloading it. The smell is very persistent. That is why hotels and motels try to separate the rooms forever. The smell gets into the carpet and drapes, and it isn't easily exorcised by washing the sheets. Plus dropping ash burns holes in the carpet. My former husband did quite a number on our living room carpet, falling asleep while he smoked. Frankly, we were lucky he didn't burn the house down and kill us all. That would be the ultimate price to pay for smoking.

Mattresses are notoriously flammable, even if sheets are flame retardant. Chairs and other pieces of furniture are not regulated to be flame retardant. Smokers spend extra money on their dental work as their teeth stain and decay. A lot of smokers suck on hard candy, mints or chew gum for the times when they can't light up. All of that is tough on teeth. Hard candy attacks the enamel on teeth. Gum can be sugar free, yet it still isn't good for you, it's an added expense on top of the $7.00 per pack. So consider not just the cost of the tobacco, the rolling papers, the matches, lighters, cigarettes, and pipes add in every other additional expense and you will see quitting is a beneficial option.

If you have a hard time quitting, seek help. In addition to clubs, groups and self help you may try hypnosis or therapy. Then there's always the patch.