Health and Medicine

If 10% of US Smokers Quit, $63 Billion Would be Saved in the US Alone

smoking costs

Even if you aren’t a smoker yourself, you probably know that not only is smoking harmful to your health but it gets pretty expensive. Health care costs are said to decrease dramatically within the first year of a smoker quitting. Not only that, but if 1 in 10 people in the US chose to stop smoking, a staggering $63 billion in health care costs would be saved in next year.

During a recent study by researchers from the University of San Francisco California, first author James Lightwood (associate professor in the UCSF School of Pharmacy), discovered that health care needs drop exponentially at a very quick rate when people alter their smoking behaviors.

The researchers looked at the data between the years of 1992 and 2009, which included health care costs that were directly linked to smoking. All 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia were used in their observations. The study looked at not only people who smoke themselves, but those who are exposed to cigarette smoke (second-hand smokers). Smoking has been shown to cause numerous serious health problems including heart disease, lung disease and complications during pregnancy.

Very early on in the study, researchers found evidence that both getting people to quit smoking and even promoting smoking a lower number of cigarettes would quickly lead to a steady decline in overall health care costs. For smokers looking to lead healthier lifestyles, there is promising news: once an individual quits smoking, their risk of both heart attack and stroke drop by about 50% in a year. When women stop smoking during their first trimester, the risk of having an underweight child all but diminishes.

Study co-author Stanton Glantz, who is the director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, says their latest findings show the importance of state and national policies that work to reduce smoking. Not only does this help create a much healthier world, but can be a very important key to contain health care costs. The study estimates that California alone spend $15 billion less in 2009 on medical costs because smoking was far below the national average at the time. Kentucky on the other hand had a higher than average rate of smoking, which cost the state $2 billion more in health care.

The study authors say regions that implement public policies in an effort to reduce smoking show very substantial decreases in their overall medical costs. Regions without tobacco control policies have much higher medical costs.

Smoking cigarettes causes about one out of every five deaths in the US each year, that is more than 480,000 deaths each year (including deaths from second-hand smoke). Mortality is higher for men with 278,544 (second-hand smoke deaths included) deaths and 201,773 of women (second-hand smoke deaths included) smoke related deaths each year. Life expectancy is also greatly reduced for smokers to at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers on average.

The complete study can be read in PLOS Medicine magazine, published on May 10th, 2016.

  • Matt McPherson

    It would be interesting to see the comparison between what smoking puts into the economy vs. what it uses through the healthcare system.

    • Negroid Mongolian Caucasian

      And also the number of health care jobs it creates…

      • Werds

        wonder how much social security goes unclaimed because smokers die

  • Negroid Mongolian Caucasian

    Oh yeah, but imagine the lost revenue from taxes!

  • toddh39

    more BS.

  • SD Guero

    17% of the US population smokes, yet 20% die from smoking? So we are saying that not only do 100% of the people that smoke die from it (bullsh!t), but another ~10 million people a year die from second hand smoke? These statistics are clearly broken. Everyone dies. It’s not like non-smokers are immortal. Using this model, I bet you could statistically prove that 100% of the people that die each year died from eating. Because they all ate something and they died for a reason that may or may not have been linked to something they ate right? #junkscience #badstats #misleading #politics

    • Bart Fargo

      The 17% refers to -current- smokers. A much larger percentage of Americans (particularly among the elderly) have smoked at some time in their lives, but do not currently. You are probably aware that smoking contributes to the risk of many lethal diseases for years or decades after a person quits. #dumbass

  • kevin

    “Life expectancy is also greatly reduced for smokers to at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers on average.”

    But no compensation in the study for the lower costs for ten less years of collecting retirement benefits and spending their heirs inheritance. Typical junk study that looks at half the story, yet still comes to a conclusion. Modern academia. Sad.

  • Kevin Brooks

    Ive been smoking for 30 years. Obamacare has taken good care of me. I am unemployed, on disability insurance (I have ptsd from childhood). I get $1300 a mo. disability. My Obamacare premiums were $303 a mo. Since I qualify for subsidies, I pay $33 a mo. I go to a clinic that gives me inhalers to help my emphysema. They say my treatment would be thousands of dollars a month w/o Obamacare. We need to elect Hillary so I can keep my $33 a mo. payment.