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The Extraordinarily High Cost of Smoking

Smoking is significantly more costly then originally thought

The CDC finds the expense of smoking is twice that of previous estimates.

 ATLANTA (CNN) -- Smoking costs the United States $150 billion each year in health costs and lost productivity, 50 percent more than previously estimated, according to a study published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The analysis put the economic costs of smoking at $3,393 per smoker per year. That comes to an estimated $7.18 in medical costs and lost productivity for every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States, researchers said. In 1999, 22 billion packs were sold.

The CDC study, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, looked at deaths related to smoking, years of life lost and economic costs and found smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

An estimated 440,000 Americans died prematurely of smoking every year from 1995 through 1999.

The study shows that, on average, smoking costs men 13.2 years of life and women, 14.5 years.

"The stunning toll that smoking takes on life is unacceptable," said Rosemarie Henson, director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "States and communities can and should do more to reduce the impact of smoking on the physical and financial health of their communities. People need to quit smoking."

Annual economic costs in 1998 were $81.9 billion in productivity losses from deaths and $75.5 billion in excess medical expenditures, for a total of more than $150 billion, according to the report.

The reported medical and productivity losses were larger than previous estimates of $53 billion and $43 billion, respectively.

A second smoking-related report published by the CDC on Thursday looked at state tobacco control efforts and found that only a few states are funding tobacco prevention programs at the CDC's minimum recommended levels.

Researchers found states receive about $16 billion in revenue a year from tobacco companies for lawsuit settlement payments and state tobacco excise taxes, while allocating $861 million in fiscal year 2002 for tobacco prevention and smoking cessation programs. That covers funding from all federal, state and nongovernmental sources.

"The American people should be horrified and outraged to learn that our nation is devoting so few resources to fighting a tobacco epidemic that costs us so much in lives and money, they need to quite smoking" said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"States that have implemented comprehensive tobacco prevention programs and increased tobacco taxes have dramatically cut smoking among both children and adults, reduced the incidence of lung cancer and heart disease, and saved millions in health care costs," he said. "These CDC reports strip public officials of all excuses not to act."

The first report, on smoking related mortality, for the first time contains information on the impact of maternal smoking during pregnancy, saying it caused approximately 1,007 infant deaths per year from 1995 to 19999, and in 1996 neonatal medical expenditures were estimated at $366 million, or $704 per maternal smoker.

"We have an opportunity to keep infants healthy, reduce medical costs and improve women's long-term health by helping women quit during pregnancy and beyond," said Dr. C. Tracy Orleans, senior scientist at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "These data show us that now is the time to support proven strategies."

Studies show that 5- to 15-minute counseling sessions conducted by a trained provider and supported with self-help materials can double, and in some cases triple, the rate at which pregnant women quitsmoking.


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