Current estimates on the economic impact of tobacco control interventions are out-of-date and do not reflect the latest data on the health effects of smoking or the costs and benefits of smoking cessation and prevention, according to new findings published in the online journal BMC Public Health.

The findings draw attention to the challenges involved in identifying the costs – in dollars, disease, and death – associated with smoking that can be used in economic evaluations.

Updated estimates on the costs and benefits associated with preventing or quitting smoking are needed

Led by the Schroeder Institute® for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative®, researchers searched five electronic databases (CINAHL, Embase, PsycINFO, PubMed, and EconLit) and reviewed 18 U.S.-based studies ranging from 1997 to 2012 that estimated the economic outcomes, lifetime medical care costs and quality-adjusted life years, associated with smoking.

Out of the 18 studies, 50 percent cited a 1992 source to estimate the medical costs associated with smoking, and 56 percent cited a 1996 study to estimate the quality-adjusted life years saved by quitting or preventing smoking.

Developing accurate and up-to-date estimates of the costs and benefits associated with smoking cessation and prevention can be helpful in determining how health programs deliver a return on investment and prioritizing funding for health programs at the local, state, and national levels.

“Updated estimates on the costs and benefits associated with preventing or quitting smoking are needed to understand the potential economic impact of tobacco control programs on reducing death, disease and medical costs,” said Dr. Andrea Villanti, Director for Regulatory Science and Policy at the Schroeder Institute.

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