Tobacco Control Can Save States Lots Of Money

States are being shortsighted by shifting tobacco control programs to cut spending because smoking cessation saves lots of money, a San Francisco economist.

Funding tobacco control programs at recommend levels could save 14 to 20 times more than the cost of implementing the programs, said Sudip Chattopadhyay of the San Francisco State University and David R. Pieper at University of California, Berkeley.

Published in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy, the study said the costs of smoking are felt by the states, mainly through medical costs, Medicaid payments and the loss of productivity by workers.

The researchers used data from 1991 to 2007, the period in which states paid for the tobacco control programs with the help of the tobacco taxes, public and private initiatives and funds from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between the nation’s four largest tobacco companies and 46 states.

Chattopadhyay and Pieper said state tobacco control programs have a “sustained and steadily increasing long-run impact” on the demand for cigarettes, but in hard economic times, several states have turned to tobacco control funds and taxes to help balance state budgets, reported.

Since 2002, funding has dropped and states, on average, spent 17 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended levels in 2010 for smoking cessation, state smoke-free laws, regulating tobacco products and advertising.

“Almost all states are facing financial crisis, and they are really diverting their funds,” UPI quoted the researchers as saying in a statement. “If tobacco control funding was restored, states “would save money in terms of reduced Medicaid, and reduced medical and productivity costs - costs that are only going to go up.”

By Jasmine Williams

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