New Study Finds Positive Return on Investment for States that Invest in Quit Smoking Treatments
For every $1 spent on helping smokers quit, Hawaii would see $1.20 return
News Release from www.ala-hawaii.org
HONOLULU, Hawaii. (September 14, 2010) — A new study released today by the American Lung Association, and conducted by researchers at Penn State University, finds that helping smokers quit not only saves lives but also offers favorable economic benefits to states. The study, titled Smoking Cessation: the Economic Benefits, provides a nationwide cost-benefit analysis that compares the costs to society of smoking with the economic benefits of states providing cessation (quit-smoking) coverage. The study comes at an important time, as important cessation benefit provisions are being implemented at the federal and state levels as a result of healthcare reform legislation.
Each year, tobacco use kills more than 1,100 people in Hawaii, and this new study identifies significant and staggering costs directly attributable to death and disease caused by smoking. For example, the study finds that smoking results in costs to the Hawaii economy of more than $1.1 billion. This includes workplace productivity losses of $215 million, costs of premature death at $449 million, and direct medical expenditures of $444 million.
The study also calculates the combined medical and premature death costs and workplace productivity losses per pack of cigarettes. In Hawaii, the average retail pack of cigarettes is $7.45. The costs and workplace productivity losses statewide equal $23.26 — 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 offering full coverage of clinically proven cessation treatments for smokers, which will not only save lives but also money,” said Renee Klein, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific.
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. Quitting can often take several attempts before a smoker is successful. Using evidence-based treatments increases smokers’ chances of quitting – but many smokers don’t have access to or don’t know about what kind of treatments are available to them. Two local resources in Hawaii are the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking program (www.ffsonline.org) and the Hawaii Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Some of the highest rates of smoking are found among people enrolled in Medicaid, the joint federal and state health program for low-income people. The American Lung Association urges every state to provide all Medicaid recipients and 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. Only six states now 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.
About the Study
Researchers at Penn State University with expertise in health economics and administration performed this cost-benefit analysis using government and other published data. The analysis compares the costs of providing smoking cessation treatments (including price of medications and counseling and lost tax revenue) to the savings possible if smokers quit (including savings in health care expenditures, premature death costs, and productivity losses).
State specific data can be found at www.lungusa.org/cessationbenefits.
Funding for the study was provided through an unrestricted research grant from Pfizer Inc.
About the American Lung Association in Hawaii
The American Lung Association in Hawaii is a non-profit, voluntary public health organization dedicated solely to fighting lung disease and promoting lung health in Hawaii. Our programs focus on the areas of asthma, clean air, tobacco prevention, and lung disease.
For more information about the American Lung Association in Hawaii or to support the work it does, call (808) 537-5966 or visit www.ala-hawaii.org/.