Objective: To estimate the short-term benefits of a reduction in smoking on acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and stroke hospitalisations and costs.
Design and setting: Epidemiological study which applied functions describing reductions over time in risk of AMI and stroke in people quitting smoking to hospitalisation rates and costs for Australia.
Main outcome measures: The numbers of AMI and stroke hospitalisations in 35-64-year-olds and the associated costs that could have been avoided over a 7-year period from 2001-02 if smoking prevalence had decreased by 1% in the first year (Scenario 1) or by 1% per annum for 5 consecutive years (Scenario 2).
Results: Under Scenario 1, almost 1000 hospitalisations for AMI and about 350 hospitalisations for stroke would have been avoided over 7 years, saving about $20.4 million in health care costs. Under Scenario 2, over 3000 AMI hospitalisations and over 1000 stroke hospitalisations would be avoided, and health care costs could be reduced by $61.6 million (2.75% of costs for AMI and stroke over the period).
Conclusions: This study provides further support for the proposition that modest and achievable reductions in smoking rates can substantially improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs, even in the short term.