Objectives: We estimated the economic impact of smoking on African Americans in California in 2002, including smoking-attributable health care expenditures and productivity losses from smoking-caused mortality.
Methods: We estimated econometric models of smoking-attributable ambulatory care, prescription drugs, inpatient care, and home health care using national and state survey data. We assessed smoking-attributable mortality using epidemiological models.
Results: Adult smoking prevalence for African Americans was 19.3% compared with 15.4% for all Californians. The health care cost of smoking was $626 million for the African American community. A total of 3013 African American Californians died of smoking-attributable illness in 2002, representing a loss of over 49,000 years of life and $784 million in productivity. The total cost of smoking for this community amounted to $1.4 billion, or $1.8 billion expressed in 2008 dollars.
Conclusions: Although African Americans account for 6% of the California adult population, they account for over 8% of smoking-attributable expenditures and fully 13% of smoking-attributable mortality costs. Our findings confirm the need to tailor tobacco control programs to African Americans to mitigate the disproportionate burden of smoking for this community.