Objective: To determine whether declines in tobacco product sales significantly reduce employment in the United States, as the tobacco industry claims.
Design: Computer simulation of the economies of the Southeast Tobacco region and 8 nontobacco regions of the United States, with domestic tobacco expenditures eliminated or reduced and the equivalent spending redistributed, according to consumers' normal spending patterns. We compared these results with baseline forecasts of the regional economies that include normal tobacco expenditures.
Main outcome measure: Number of jobs.
Results: Had there been no spending on tobacco products in the United States in 1993, the Southeast Tobacco region would have had 303 000 fewer jobs. Collectively, however, the 8 nontobacco regions would have gained enough employment to completely offset losses in the Southeast Tobacco region, with every nontobacco region gaining jobs. By the year 2000, the absence of tobacco spending would mean a loss of 222 000 jobs in the Southeast Tobacco region, but a gain of 355 000 throughout the rest of the country. In the more realistic scenario of doubling the downward trend in tobacco consumption, the Southeast Tobacco region would lose 6300 jobs in 1993 (0.03% of regional employment) and 36 600 jobs by 2000 (0.2%). The 8 nontobacco regions would gain 6400 jobs in 1993 and 56 300 jobs in 2000, with each of the nontobacco regions gaining employment in every year.
Conclusions: Contrary to the tobacco industry's claims, reductions in spending on tobacco products will boost employment in every one of the 8 nontobacco regions and will not diminish employment in the Southeast Tobacco region by as much as the industry estimates. The primary concern about tobacco should be the enormity of its toll on health and not its impact on employment.