Introduction: The economic impact of smoking, including healthcare costs and the value of lost productivity due to illness and mortality, was estimated for California for 2009.
Methods: Smoking-attributable healthcare costs were estimated using a series of econometric models that estimate expenditures for hospital care, ambulatory care, prescriptions, home health care, and nursing home care. Lost productivity due to illness was estimated using an econometric model predicting how smoking status affects the number of days lost from work or other activities. The value of lives lost from premature mortality due to smoking was estimated using an epidemiological approach.
Results: Almost 4 million Californians still smoke, including 146 000 adolescents. The cost of smoking in 2009 totaled $18.1 billion, including $9.8 billion in healthcare costs, $1.4 billion in lost productivity from illness, and $6.8 billion in lost productivity from premature mortality. This amounts to $487 per California resident and $4603 per smoker. Costs were greater for men than for women. Hospital costs comprised 44% of healthcare costs.
Conclusions: Despite extensive efforts at tobacco control in California, healthcare and lost productivity costs attributable to smoking remain high. Compared to costs for 1999, the total cost was 15% greater in 2009. However, after adjusting for inflation, real costs have fallen by 13% over the past decade, indicating that efforts have been successful in reducing the economic burden of smoking in the state.
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