Quit Smoking Treatments a Smart Investment for States

Study Finds for Every $1 Spent On Helping Smokers Quit, States Would See $1.26 Return

(September 24, 2010)

Financially strapped states may want to try an investment strategy, with a potential average return of 26 percent - that saves lives in the process.  A new study released by the American Lung Association, and conducted by researchers at Penn State University, finds that helping smokers quit does just that.  The study, titled Smoking Cessation: the Economic Benefits, provides a nationwide analysis that compares the costs to society of smoking with the economic benefits of states providing cessation (quit-smoking) coverage. 

Each year, tobacco use kills 393,000 people in America, and this new study identifies the staggering costs due to the death and disease caused by smoking.  For example, the study finds that smoking results in costs to the U.S. economy of more than $301 billion. This includes workplace productivity losses of $67.5 billion, costs of premature death at $117 billion, and direct medical expenditures of $116 billion.

Each Pack is Costly
The study also calculates the combined medical and premature death costs and workplace productivity losses per pack of cigarettes.  The nationwide average retail pack of cigarettes is $5.51.  The costs and workplace productivity losses nationwide equal $18.05—more than 300 percent the average retail price of a cigarette pack.

“This study spells out in dollars and cents the great potential economic benefits to states of helping smokers quit.  We urge the District of Columbia and all states to offer full coverage of clinically proven cessation treatments for smokers, which will not only save lives but also money,” said Charles D. Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. 

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of illness and death in the United States and surveys show that 70 percent of tobacco users want to quit.  The Lung Association has been helping smokers quit for decades and we know it’s hard to quit.  But when smokers use FDA-approved medications along with counseling, they are much more likely to succeed.  And states can help by investing in tobacco cessation.

Helping Smokers Quit Helps States
In addition to identifying the staggering costs of smoking to the U.S. economy, the study provides state governments with compelling economic reasons to help smokers quit.  For example if states were to invest in comprehensive smoking cessation benefits, each would receive, on average, a 26 percent return on investment.  In other words, for every dollar spent on helping smokers quit, states will see on average a return of $1.26.  Click here to find out exactly how much your state would save, and to see how much smoking costs your state. 

Comprehensive Help Recommended
Because some of the highest rates of smoking are found among people enrolled in Medicaid, the American Lung Association urges every state to provide all Medicaid recipients, as well as 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.  Today, only six states provide comprehensive coverage for Medicaid recipients: Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

The 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.

You Can Help
Join our fight to expand quit-smoking benefits!  Learn more about volunteer opportunities at the American Lung Association near you. You can also make a donation to help the Lung Association continue its fight for healthy lungs across America.

This media outreach project was funded through a collaboration with Pfizer, Inc.