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January 14, 2003

New Report Shows Crippling Economic Toll of Smoking on California's Fiscal Health

Smoking costs in California are nearly $16 billion annually, or $ 3,331 per
smoker every year, according to a report by the UCSF School of Nursing
Institute for Health & Aging. The healthcare costs alone would equal
one-quarter of the projected state deficit, according to Wendy Max, PhD,
co-director of the Institute for Health & Aging and UCSF professor of health
economics.

"Our study shows that even though tobacco control efforts in California are
among the most successful in the nation, the cost of smoking in the state
continues to increase," said Max. "These numbers should be a wake-up call that
we need to continue our efforts to reduce the health care costs, lives lost,
and pain and suffering caused by smoking."

On Tuesday, California's Tobacco Education Research Oversight Committee (TEROC)
will present recommendations that urge legislators to raise the tobacco tax to
help alleviate the state's financial crisis and increase support to tobacco
control and education programs. TEROC's call for a tobacco tax increase is one
of the key recommendations contained in the Committee's newly released Master
Plan to the California Legislature. They propose that 20 cents per pack be
earmarked for California's Proposition 99-funded health education and research
programs. According to tobacco control experts in the state, every dollar
invested in the California Tobacco Control Program saves the state at least $ 3
in direct health care costs and another $5 by reducing lost productivity.

The report also highlights the direct health care costs attributed to smoking,
including hospital care, ambulatory care, nursing home expenses, prescription
drug costs and home health care. All account for more than half of the burden
at $8.6 billion. The researchers also state that lost productivity due to
premature death amounts to a staggering $5.7 billion, with another $1.5 billion
in lost productivity due to illness.


Other findings:

* Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable disease and premature
death killing 43,000 Californians each year and affecting millions of others
nationwide with long-term health problems.

* While there are fewer smokers in California than there were a decade ago, 4.7
million Californians still smoke. Included are 4.5 million adults and 207,000
adolescents.

* More males than females smoke in California - 2.7 million or 22.1 percent of
adult men and 1.9 million or 15.3 percent of adult women. Adolescent males
smoke at similar rates to adolescent females - 7.7 percent vs. 7.4 percent.

* The cost of smoking for men is greater than that for women -- $9.4 billion
compared to $6.3 billion. Direct costs and indirect lost productivity costs due
to illness are similar for men and women, while indirect costs of lost
productivity from premature death are substantially greater for men.

* Expenditures for hospital care of current and former smokers amount to $4
billion, or 47 percent of total direct medical costs; ambulatory care services
amount to $2.1 billion or 24 percent; nursing home care amounts to $1.3 billion
or 15 percent; prescription drugs amount to $1.1 billion; and home health care
amounts to $87 million.

Additional investigators on the report include: Dorothy Rice, ScD (Hon.),
professor emerita UCSF Institute for Health & Aging; Hai-Yen Sung, PhD,
research specialist in the UCSF Institute for Health & Aging; Xiulan Zhang,
PhD, professor, Beijing Normal University;  and Leonard Miller, PhD, economist
and professor in the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley.

The report was funded by the Tobacco Control Section of the California
Department of Health Services.

UCSF News:  Maureen McInaney

 

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