American Lung Association in California Co-Sponsors Senate Bill 220 (Yee): Smoking Cessation Services and Treatments

Statement by Paul Knepprath, Vice President, Advocacy & Health Initiatives of the American Lung Association in California

Sacramento, CA (June 22, 2010)

The American Lung Association in California is pleased to co-sponsor SB 220 along with the American Cancer Society and Heart Association and to work with Senator Yee and the many other important supporters to pass this important, life saving measure.

SB 220 will chip away at the enormous health and economic burden that is caused by smoking.  Tobacco addiction annually costs California $8.6 billion in direct medical costs and another eight and a half billion in lost productivity.

This bill will provide the treatments to smokers that they need to quit, it won’t cost the state a dime, and it will save it millions. 

In fact, the report by the California Health Benefits Review Program says that SB 220 does not increase costs for Medi-Cal HMOs, Healthy Families, and CalPERS HMOs, and would reduce smoking and its associated economic costs both in the short and long term.

The Health Benefits analysis estimates that 8,081 health plan members would successfully quit smoking each year as a result of SB 220’s increased treatments and services. Using costs-of-smoking estimates by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, this additional 8,000 plus quitters (at $5,633/smoker) would equate to a total savings of more than $45.5 million annually.

Furthermore, a study of the Massachusetts program demonstrates that providing comprehensive smoking cessation benefits similar to those proposed in SB 220, will lead to significant progress in reducing smoking and associated health consequences:

• 26 percent of MassHealth smokers (33,000 people) quit smoking
• 17 percent drop in emergency room and clinic visits due to asthma
• 38 percent decrease in hospitalizations for heart attacks
• 17 percent drop in claims for adverse birth complications, including pre-term labor.

We know that providing comprehensive cessation services and treatments not only will improve the health of smokers and save lives, it will provide tremendous economic benefits and cost savings -- to insurers, employers, California taxpayers and local and state government.