Wednesday, February 20, 2013

California's Tobacco Control Program generates huge health care savings, UCSF study shows

Do you think this is really true?
Over a span of nearly 20 years, California's tobacco control program cost $2.4 billion and reduced health care costs by $134 billion, according to a new study by UC San Francisco.

Additionally, the study -- covering the beginning of the program in 1989 to 2008 -- found that the state program helped lead to some 6.8 billion fewer packs of cigarettes being sold that would have been worth $28.5 billion in sales to cigarette companies.

The study was designed to calculate the fiscal impact of California's large public health program on smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption. The new research shows that tobacco control funding is directly tied to reductions in both the prevalence of smoking and cigarette consumption per smoker – and generates significant savings in overall health care expenditures.

"These health care cost savings began to appear almost immediately after the program started and have grown over time, reaching more than $25 billion a year in 2008," said first author James Lightwood, PhD, a UCSF associate professor of clinical pharmacy.
We are blessed nowadays with the Internet that allows us to really check these claims that people make.  And what we see is that the claims are wanting.

Here is a graph of the smoking rate from 1950 through 1978.  What do we see?  Look at the top line labeled "Total".
The most significant thing we notice is by the early 1960s the smoking rate had peaked and started to decrease.

Looking at another graph for the entire USA,   This graph covers 1880 through 1995
One thing that is immediately clear, either the percentage of people smoking and the amount being smoked peaked in the 1950s - 1960s. And the graph NEVER LOOKED BACK.  The graphs show a healthy decrease in smoking and smokers.

Let's look  at CA vs the nation from 1979 through 1998.  As it turns out, CA'ians have always smoked less. Ignore the graph on the bottom.

And yet again, if there is a point you can highlight showing a marked decrease in smoking due to changes in laws restricting smoking in public areas, you're a better man than I am.  All of these graphs show that the rate of smoking with or without additional taxes or bans has been decreasing.  These health agencies have been running victory laps saying that have saved the citizens of CA hundreds of billion in healthcare costs.

And it's been a lie.

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