Category Archives: Medical costs of smoking

Smoking’s toll in California — $18 billion a year, more deaths than AIDS, Alzhemier’s or diabetes


A study from the University of California, San Francisco (a school that has long specialized in smoking and tobacco studies) states that in 2009, smoking-related illnesses cost the state $18 billion — $487 per person — and killed more people than AIDS, diabetes or Alzheimer’s.

That cost is $4,600 per smoker, and includes not only direct medical expenses, but indirect costs such as lost productivity.

From the article written by MedicalExpress:

Altogether, smoking represented $6.8 billion in lost productivity and about 587,000 years of potential life lost from 34,363 deaths, or 17.1 years per death, the researchers found.

Compared to California deaths in 2009 from other causes, the 34,363 total deaths from smoking were 17 times the number from AIDS; five times the deaths from diabetes, influenza and pneumonia; and three times the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease and unintentional injuries. The leading cause of smoking-attributable death was cancer (13,514 deaths), followed by cardiovascular disease (10,490), respiratory diseases (10,331 — most probably COPD), and pediatric disease (27). Secondhand smoke exposure caused 794 adult deaths (Pepe note — hmm, that’s a tough one to prove, actually, but never mind, that’s 800 people out of 34,000).

The direct health care costs of smoking accounted for 54.4 percent of the total $18.1 billion cost of smoking, or $9.8 billion. Lost productivity due to illness comprised 7.9 percent ($1.4 billion), and lost productivity from premature death comprised 37.6 percent ($6.8 billion).

While California has the most people of any state, it also has one of the lowest smoking rates. Only Utah is lower. About 12.6 percent of adults smoke in California, so imagine how much higher that $487 per resident figure would be is heavy-smoking states such as Kentucky or West Virginia. It might be twice as high.