According to a new study by UC San Francisco over a span of nearly 20 years, California's tobacco control program cost $2.4 billion and reduced health care costs by $134 billion.
Additionally, the study -- covering the beginning of the program in 1989 to 2008 -- found that the state program helped lead to some 6.8 billion fewer packs of cigarettes being sold that would have been worth $28.5 billion in sales to cigarette companies.
The study was designed to calculate the fiscal impact of California's large public health program on smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption. The new research shows that tobacco control funding is directly tied to reductions in both the prevalence of smoking and cigarette consumption per smoker - and generates significant savings in overall health care expenditures.
"These health care cost savings began to appear almost immediately after the program started and have grown over time, reaching more than $25 billion a year in 2008," said first author James Lightwood, PhD, a UCSF associate professor of clinical pharmacy.
The study will be published online Feb. 13, 2013 in the journal PLOS ONE
Every year, an estimated 443,000 people in the United States die from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 8.6 million people suffer from a serious smoking-related illness. Annually, costs associated with smoking-related illness account billions in medical expenses and lost productivity, and 5.1 million years of potential life lost in the United States, the CDC reports.