California’s $2.4 billion tobacco control program reduced health care costs by $134 billion between 1989 and 2008, according to a study released by the University of California, San Francisco.
The program also reduced the number of cigarette packs sold in that time by approximately 6.8 billion, according to the study, which was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Results found that each dollar spent on tobacco control reduced cigarette consumption for each current smoker by 1.39 packs per year.
California’s tobacco control program was launched in 1989 with a strategy to indirectly influence current and potential tobacco users by creating social and legal climates to make tobacco less desirable, less acceptable, and less accessible. The research showed that the program was directly tied to reductions in smoking rates and cigarette consumption per smoker, generating significant savings in health care expenditures, the authors wrote.
The study comes at a time when states have slashed funding for tobacco prevention programs by 36 percent (about $260 million) since 2008, according to Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“These studies underscore how penny-wise and pound-foolish the states have been in shortchanging tobacco prevention and cessation programs,” Myers said in a statement.
“The new California study confirms that tobacco prevention works to save lives and save money. It makes no sense for elected officials to shortchange programs that are proven to reduce health care costs and save money for taxpayers.”