State’s Anti-Smoking Plan Makes Cents
California’s Smoking Cessation Program Cuts Health Care Costs by Billions
Aug. 25, 2008 -- Call it a “two for one.” California researchers say their
state-funded program aimed at cutting smoking can also save a lot of money.
That’s the word from researchers at the University of California, San
Francisco who looked at the monetary benefits of their state’s anti-smoking
efforts. Started in 1989, the campaign is called The California Tobacco Control
Researchers, led by James Lightwood, came up with figures by comparing
California’s anti-smoking efforts to 38 other states.
The comparison states were states that did not have their own anti-smoking
campaign in place before the year 2000 and had not increased taxes on packs of
cigarettes by 50 cents or more during the course of the study.
Researchers then crunched the numbers to estimate what effect California’s
program had on “total personal health care spending.”
They did the same for the 38 comparison states.
What the study found was:
- The estimated total savings from the California anti-smoking program was
$86 billion in personal health care between 1989 and 2004.
- If you look at that another way, study authors write, that savings can be
seen as a “50-fold increase” on the $1.8 billion spent on the program itself
during the same period.
- California’s anti-smoking plan also was associated with 3.6 billion fewer
packs of cigarettes sold between 1989 and 2004.
- Researchers say that translates to a big loss for tobacco companies -- an
estimated $9 billion loss, before taxes.
This study defines “total personal health care spending as including:
- Hospital costs
- Doctor’s fees
- Prescription drug charges
- Home health care costs
- Nursing home care
- Health equipment
- Vision products
- Other personal health care
In background information published with the findings, researchers write
that California’s program differs from other states’ programs because it aims
to actually “change social norms” about smoking.
It targets getting adults to stop smoking, not trying to prevent teens from
picking up the habit.
The thinking is if more adults stop, teen smoking will decrease.
Researchers write that the state wages an “aggressive media campaign” that
puts out these three main messages:
- The tobacco industry lies.
- Nicotine is addictive.
- Secondhand smokes kills.
Researchers write that there is a “large amount” of money available (from
state taxes on cigarettes and from settlements with tobacco companies), but
that “little of it has been invested in tobacco control programs.” The example
they give is that out of the $25 billion a year that states receive, only $720
million will be dedicated to tobacco control programs this year.
The results are published in the August issue of PloS Medicine.