Smoking Costs Society $7 Per Pack of Cigarettes, CDC Finds
Every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States costs the country more than $7 in medical care and lost productivity, according to a new CDC study, the AP/Boston Globe reports. Using data from 1995 to 1999, the CDC analyzed expenses for individuals and the health care industry and used national medical surveys to extrapolate the overall cost of smoking to the nation. The study, the first to evaluate a per-pack cost of smoking, concluded that each pack smoked results in $3.45 in medical costs and $3.73 in lost productivity due to early deaths, for a total of $7.18. For every smoker, the nation's cost of smoking is $3,391, or $157.7 billion overall. "There's a big difference in the cost to society and what society is getting back in tax," the CDC's Dr. Terry Pechacek, said, adding, "We believe society is bearing a burden for the individual behavioral choices of the smokers." Each year, Americans buy about 22 billion packs of cigarettes. The study concluded that smoking results in about 440,000 deaths in the Unites States each year, 10,000 more deaths than the government's previous estimate. The study also found that smoking takes an average of 13 years off the lives of men and 14.5 years from women. Tobacco company Brown & Williamson criticized the study, saying that the per-pack cost figures were presented in a "vacuum," as the study did not compare smoking to the financial burden that other people, such as diabetics, place on society. "What does that number mean? It doesn't mean anything. It's bordering on meaningless," Brown & Williamson spokesperson Mark Smith said (AP/Boston Globe, 4/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.