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April 18, 2002
Smoking Exacts Cost in Health, Productivity
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h pack of cigarettes sold in the United States costs the nation an estimated $7.18 in medical care costs and lost productivity, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in a new study.

In a study of deaths related to smoking, years of life lost, and economic costs, CDC found that smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, resulting in an estimated 440,000 premature deaths annually from 1995 through 1999.

On average, adult men and women smokers lost 13.2 and 14.5 years of life, respectively, because they smoked.

Economic costs during the same period were $81.9 billion in productivity losses from deaths (average for 1995-1999) and $75.5 billion in excess medical expenditures in 1998, for a total of more than $150 billion, according to the report.

The reported medical and productivity losses were larger than previous estimates of $53 billion and $43 billion, respectively.

"The fact that nearly half a million Americans lose their lives each year because of smoking-related illnesses is a significant public health tragedy," said Dr. David Fleming, acting director, CDC. "It's important now more than ever that states and local communities put in place comprehensive tobacco control programs to stem this tidal wave of preventable deaths."

According to the analysis, for each of the 22 billion packs of cigarettes sold in the United States in 1999, $3.45 was spent on medical care related to smoking, compared with the previous 1993 estimate of $2.06 per pack. Another $3.73 per pack was spent on productivity losses from smoking. Overall, the economic cost of smoking equaled about $3,391 per smoker per year.

Despite recent declines, CDC observed, young people in the United States are still using tobacco at a high rate: 34.5 percent of high school students and 15.1 percent of middle school students currently use some form of tobacco (cigarettes, smokeless, cigars, pipes, bidis, or kreteks).

Every day, more than 2,200 young people under the age of 18 become daily smokers.

Other findings from the new study include these:

- Each year from 1995 through 1999, smoking caused more than 264,000 deaths in men and more than 178,000 deaths in women.

- Among adults, most deaths were from lung cancer (124,813), heart disease (81,976) and lung disease (64,735).

- Smoking-related cancer and lung disease deaths in women increased from 1995 to 1999.

- Smoking during pregnancy resulted in more than 1,000 infant deaths annually.
Neonatal costs were $366 million--$704 per pregnant smoker-in 1996.

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