Thursday, September 16, 2010

The American Lung Association released the results of a nation-wide study Tuesday showing that investing in smoking cessation services saves lives and money. Researchers at Penn State University studied the costs and benefits of behavioral and pharmacologic programs to determine if the costs of making smoking cessation programs available on the state-level could be justified by the benefits. The study specifically took into account the costs that smoking cessation would have on each state, such as lost tax and retail revenue, as well as the benefits each program would have. Researchers focused on the state-level, since it is ultimately the state that is responsible for insurance regulation and coverage decisions.

Researchers conducted a cost-benefit analysis on smoking cessation treatments, which included nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion, and varenicline, both with or without smoking cessation counseling. Benefits included in the analysis were a reduction in direct and indirect medical expenses, as well as increased workplace productivity and a reduction in premature deaths. Costs included in the analysis were the direct costs of the smoking cessation programs, lost tax revenue and lost revenues to retailers and distributors.

Results from this study showed that the annual direct costs to the economy due to smoking were greater than $298 billion. Among these direct costs were workplace productivity losses of an estimated $67.5 billion, premature death losses of $117 billion, and medical expenditures of $116 billion. While a pack of cigarettes on average costs $5.51, taking into account these medical costs and productivity losses, a pack would cost approximately $18.05.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services have issued recommendations on smoking cessation, access to these treatments is not guaranteed and many payers do not provide coverage for smoking cessation. The health benefits of smoking cessation have been known for some time, but there is now economic justification as well. Now it’s time to urge states to take action. If states offer coverage for smoking cessation they will realize health and financial benefits. Researchers have estimated that with every dollar states spend on smoking cessation, they will save on average $1.26. Partnership for Prevention urges all states to join Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania in expanding comprehensive coverage to Medicaid recipients to save lives and money.

Katie Burggraf
Tobacco Control Team
Partnership for Prevention


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