Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Billions in Medical Costs Saved by Tobacco

I smoke. I wish I did not. I've been trying to quit for almost two decades now with pathetic results. I know it is important to my health and increasingly to my wallet as well. Unfortunately, I must admit my addiction. What is really boggling to the mind is a recent study by researchers at the University of California that shows an unexpected way that smoking effects us all financially: health care costs. Now I know everyone is aware that health cost are higher for smokers, but this report brings a whole new perspective to things.

California's state Tobacco Control Program has saved $86 billion dollars (in 2004 dollars, FYI) in individual health care costs during its first 15 years in place.

Via Science Daily:

During the same period, the state spent only a total of $1.8 billion on the program, a 50-to-1 return on investment, according to study findings. The study is the first that has been able to quantifiably connect tobacco control to healthcare savings, say its authors.

The savings come from the 3.6 billion packs of cigarettes that were not smoked as a result of these programs between the beginning of the Tobacco Control Program and the end of the study in '04. While great for health care consumers, I am sure the tobacco industry is not happy. Those lost sales account for $9.2 billion dollars in sales.

Now those of you familiar with George C. Halvorson's position on chronic conditions are aware that he considers them to be a lion's share of overall health care expenditures. Numerous studies indicate that lung cancer and heart disease -- both of which are inextricably linked to smoking -- are very high on the list of those chronic conditions. With that info in hand, these findings are hardly surprising, but it is the fact that this study presents the first verifiable link between attempts at tobacco control/regulation and health care savings that is a landmark.

Go on over and give the original article a read. There is a lot of documentation and a very nice run down on how they collected and analyzed their data.

SOURCE: "California Tobacco Control Program Saved Billions In Medical Costs" 08/26/08
photo courtesy of Saudi, used under its Creative Commons license

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