BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
IRELAND, though a recognised global leader in tobacco control, still has an unenviably statistic that one in every two smokers will die from a tobacco-related disease, and, according to the HSE, nearly 6,000 people will die in Ireland each year from smoking-related illnesses.
The Healthy Ireland Survey 2021, which represents a detailed insight of a time interval during which necessary Covid-19 restrictions had a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of the people of Ireland, found 16% of the population smoke daily and 2% occasionally. And, for the first time, 45 to 54-year-olds are the most likely age group (24%) to smoke, with an increase of 6% since 2019.
But it’s not all bad news. A total of 27% of those who attempted to quit in the last 12 months were successful and, overall, less people are smoking now compared to five years ago with the rates of smoking among 25 to 34-year-olds (20%) having declined by 6% since 2019. This was the age group with the highest prevalence of smoking in each previous survey.
Karen Gallagher, Interim Head of Proposition at Royal London, says:“Each year thousands of people throughout Ireland aim to give up smoking, with the beginning of a new year seen by many as the perfect time to jumpstart their health goals. While we all know that quitting smoking isn’t easy, the Healthy Ireland report shows the prevalence of smoking in Ireland is reducing as more people successfully go tobacco-free.”
Beyond the physical health advantages of quitting there are significant financial benefits to be had as smoking can double the cost of life and serious illness cover.
Look at this comparision table comparing smoker rates with non-smoker rates from Royal London as an example.
Let’s assume you are currently a smoker and will be 45 this year. You will pay over €18,000 more in premiums than a non-smoker will for the same level of cover — €300,000 over the next 25-years.
And the cost of serious illness cover rises even more steeply with €68,000 more being paid than a non-smoker for €300,000 over a 25-year term.
Speaking about the cost analysis, Ms. Gallagher says:“The price differential here is quite substantial. Our experience is that, while many people expect smokers to pay more in premiums, many don’t realise how much more it adds up to over the lifetime of the policy.”
Imagine further that in 12 months’ time you have not smoked and intend never to smoke again, this includes the use of e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement products such as patches or chewing gum and you have lifecover and/or serious illness cover in place you could potentially get a significant reduction in the cost of your policy premiums.
Financial advisors find that many potential clients who have become non-smokers since taking out a policy have never had the plan reviewed regarding current levels of cover and premiums and so many were and are still losing significant savings each year.
I recommend that you get in touch with your Financial Broker to see if you can avail of more competitive rates and start saving money on your life and/or serious illness plans immediately.
This may entail a new application for lifecover, even a medical and a smoker test called a ‘cotinine test’ where they take a sample of your saliva and run a test to see if there is nicotine in your system.
It will take a small amount of your time but it could add significantly to your bottom line.