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California's Tobacco Control Program generates huge health care savings, UCSF study shows

hree themes:

  • That the tobacco industry lies;
  • That nicotine is addictive;
  • That secondhand smoke kills.

The new UCSF research updates an earlier study by the same authors, adding five years of data and a more sophisticated economic analysis. The earlier paper covered 1989 through 2004.

The researchers found a significant association between cumulative per capita tobacco control funding and both smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption per smoker. Every cumulate per capita hundred dollars spent on the state's tobacco control wound up reducing smoking prevalence by 5 percent and reduced cigarette consumption per smoker by 139 packs a year, the authors reported.

Both a reduction in the percentage and number of people smoking, and the numbers of packs each remaining smoker consumed contributed to dropping health care costs, the authors found. The reduction in smoking prevalence accounted for 36 percent of the health care cost savings, with the rest due to less consumption among continuing smokers.

"Our research shows that large scale aggressive tobacco control programs not only save lives, but make an important contribution to health care cost containment," said senior author Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, a UCSF professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

The authors obtained these estimates by comparing smoking and health costs in California with 38 other states that did not have substantial state tobacco control programs or cigarette tax increases prior to 2000.

"The results show that the California tobacco control program had a substantial effect on both smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption per smoker, and both in turn had a substantial effect on per capita health care expenditures," the study concluded.

The estimated health care expenditures associated with smoking analyzed in the study included the short and l

Contact: Elizabeth Fernandez
University of California - San Francisco

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