"Tough economic times." We hear that phrase plenty these days. California's $35 billion budget deficit threatens jobs and benefits for thousands of workers. A recent report points to tobacco as a big part of the problem. Researchers found that smoking costs the state of California almost $16 billion a year. That's $3,331 per smoker or $475 per Californian whether you smoke or not.
Ø Direct health care costs account for 54% of the total--$8.6 billion. Hospital care costs are $4 billion, almost half of health care costs. Other costs include ambulatory services ($2.1 billion), nursing home care ($1.3 billion), prescription drugs ($1.1 billion), and home health care ($87 million).
Ø Lost productivity due to illness is estimated at $1.5 billion, 10% of the total.
Ø Lost productivity due to premature death costs $5.7 billion, 36% of the total. One in five deaths in California are smoking related. That's more than 43,000 deaths per year. Each life may be cut short by over 12 years.
Ø The price of a pack of cigarettes would have to be increased $11 to pay for the cost of smoking in California.
"Smoking affects all of us," says one of the researchers. "If there was no smoking, there'd be that much more to spend on every California resident and that much more productivity." The cost of cigarettes comes out of the pocket of the smoker yet we all pay the health-related costs of smoking. The biggest threat to our wages may be the increasing costs of health care and health insurance. How does smoking affect your Health and Welfare fund?
Source: Costs of Smoking in California, 1999, Sacramento, CA, Dept. of Health Services, 2002