Study: Tobacco Control Lowers Calif. Health Costs
California’s tobacco prevention program saved $134 billion in health care costs over the last two decades, according to a new study published Wednesday about the smoking control program’s impacts in the most populous state.
California spent about $2.4 billion from 1989 through 2008 on one of the nation’s most aggressive tobacco control programs, including buying up billboards and TV time to run ads against smoking, as well as promoting smoke-free environments and tobacco cessation programs.
The study by University of California, San Francisco researchers found that for every dollar spent on the state’s anti-smoking program, health care costs dropped by about $56. Researchers attribute those savings to lower spending on health care due to people quitting or not starting, and those who do light up consuming fewer cigarettes each day.
"The California program has shifted people to being much, much lighter smokers," said Stanton Glantz, co-author of the study published Wednesday in the science journal PLOS ONE, and the director of the university’s the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. "Reducing smoking reduces cancer, heart attacks, asthma attacks and a whole range of diseases, and what we found is those changes are reflected quickly in terms of health care costs."
Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and throughout the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But smoking is not as common in California as it is in other pockets of the country. Smoking rates are among the nation’s lowest in California, at 12.1 percent, and highest in Kentucky, at 24.8 percent, the CDC found in 2010. The rate in 1988 in California was 23.7 percent, according to the California Department of Public Health.