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SACRAMENTO, Calif. A new study released Wednesday by the American Lung Association, and conducted by researchers at Penn State University, found that helping smokers quit not only saves lives but also offers favorable economic benefits to California and the nation.
“Smoking Cessation: The Economic Benefits” provides a nationwide cost-benefit analysis that compares the societal costs of smoking with the economic benefits of states providing cessation coverage.
There are an estimated 3.8 million people who smoke in California, and the study found that smoking results in costs to the California economy of more than $26 billion. This includes workplace productivity losses of nearly $6 billion, costs of premature death at more than $9 billion and direct medical expenditures of $11 billion.
The Penn State study also calculated the combined medical and premature death costs and workplace productivity losses per pack of cigarettes. The study showed that while the statewide average retail pack of cigarettes in California is $5.17, the true cost of a pack of cigarettes when considering healthcare impacts and workplace productivity losses is $27.07 per pack, a third higher than the $18.05 national average.
The American Lung Association study found that smoking cessation provided a tremendous return on investment for states. For every dollar spent on helping smokers quit, states will see, on average, a return of $1.26. However, the return on investment for California is among the highest in the country at $1.40. Comparative data for all states can be found at LungUSA.org/stop-smoking/tobacco-control-advocacy/reports-resources/cessation-economic-benefits/ .
The study came at an important time, as smoking-cessation provisions are being implemented at the federal level and in California as Senate Bill 220 is awaiting action by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sponsored by the American Lung Association in California, the Cancer Society and the Heart Association, SB 220 would require all health plans and insurers to provide coverage of treatments to help people who smoke to quit smoking. If signed into law, SB 220 would represent the most comprehensive smoking-cessation benefits policy in the nation.
“Gov. Schwarzenegger has the opportunity to make a long-lasting difference in the health and lives of future generations of Californians, and we urge him to do so by signing SB 220 into law,” stated Jane Warner, president and CEO of the American Lung Association in California.
Some of the highest rates of smoking are found among people enrolled in Medicaid, the American Lung Association added. The American Lung Association urged California and every state in the nation to provide all Medicaid recipients and state employees with comprehensive, easily accessible tobacco-cessation benefits. A comprehensive cessation benefit includes all seven medications and three types of counseling recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service for tobacco cessation. Only six states now provide comprehensive coverage for Medicaid recipients: Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
The American Lung Association also recommends that private insurance plans and employers offer comprehensive cessation coverage, and encourages states to require them to cover these treatments. Only seven states have such requirements now: Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon and Rhode Island.