PEOPLE who quit smoking are not saving money but investing dollars in groceries, health and education, a new study has found.
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Quit director Sarah White said smoking had many complex social and health impacts but such findings suggested wide-ranging community benefits, including for Ballarat and the Grampians where smoking rates were among the highest in the state.
"Smoking is one of the key drivers for inter-generational poverty," Dr White told The Courier. "The research shows people are redirecting the money they were spending on cigarettes into meals eaten out, groceries, health practitioners and education.
"It shows people were spending more on motor-vehicle fuel and that makes you question whether this for travel or to get to places where they are employed. People who smoke generally have higher levels of unemployment.
"This all shows that when someone quits, it's really good for the community. When the idea benefits another household, that's another reason to stop smoking."
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The study, led by Deakin University in partnership with Quit, tracked household expenditure of Australian adults who smoke tobacco and those who have quit. Research was conducted over seven years and across five socioeconomic groups and published in the journal BMC Public Health.
People who smoked and were in the most disadvantaged group spent, on average, $4335 each year on cigarettes.
Dr White said she had heard stories of people who had not eaten meat for months and instead would finish the week eating two-minute noodles because they had spent their pension first on cigarette supplies. Other times, people relied on smoking as an appetite suppressant.
"There is a cost to being addicted, a forced cost, but once people are released from that they're able to spend more money on other things," Dr White said.
"Sometimes people are caught in the trap of addiction and they only tend to think about the things they will lost, not the benefits, but benefits are choice."
The report also found people who were from all but the most disadvantaged socioeconomic group also decreased spending on alcohol when they quit smoking.
Dr White said there were close ties in addiction and this highlight the control in addiction.
"Measures to help people quit do far more than reduce the risk of ill-health in the future, they're setting people up to enjoy a better quality of life here and now," Dr White said.
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