- A national analysis by the University of California-San Francisco suggests healthcare costs drop sharply when smoking rates decline.
- According to the study, published in Plos Medicine, in the year following a 10% drop off in smoking, total healthcare costs would plunge by $63 billion.
- The estimate reflects all healthcare spending associated with smoking, both near and long term, as well effects of second- and third-hand exposure to smoking in nonsmokers.
The researchers looked at year-to-year changes in smoking behavior and medical costs, taking into account variations in the different states, historical trends, economic conditions and demographics.
They found that California, which already has a relatively low smoking rate, spent $15.4 billion less on healthcare in 2009 than it would have had smoking been at the national average. Kentucky’s medical expenditures, by contrast, were $1.7 billion higher than if smoking there had been at the national average.
Only Utah saved more per capita than California — $465 versus $416, the study found.
“These findings show that state and national policies that reduce smoking not only will improve health, but can be a key part of healthcare cost containment even in the short run,” co-author Stanton Glantz told UCSF.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration issued sweeping new regulations on e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, nicotine gels and cigars. The get-tough policy comes just weeks after the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would ease some FDA requirements for e-cigarettes.
The National Cancer Institute funded the study.