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COSTS: California Tobacco Control Program Saves Money -- and Lives

You hear a lot these days about all the miles Americans aren't driving because of $4 gas. How about all the cigarettes they aren't smoking because of some sensible anti-smoking investments? And the money saved on health care (not to mention the improved health of ex-smokers). New research finds that California's anti-tobacco program has yielded a 50-to-1 return and prevented 3.6 billion--yes, billion with a "b"--packs of cigarettes from being smoked in 15 years.

The report in the Aug. 25 issue of PLoS Medicine by a University of California, San Francisco team found that between 1989 and 2004 the $1.8 billion program saved $86 billion (in inflation-adjusted 2004 dollars).

"The benefits of the program accrued very quickly and are very large," senior author Stanton Glantz, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, was quoted as saying. The California program showed rapid health care costs savings because it was directed at adults, not youths, so the impact on heart and lung disease, even cancer, could be seen.

These savings occurred despite a substantial diversion of funding during the mid-1990s. In fact, the researchers estimated, if the funding had been maintained at the same intensity as it had in the program's early years, the savings would have nearly doubled to $156 billion.

Hat tip to Health News Daily for bringing this research to our attention, and if you want details of California's approach, click here...