U.S. Taxpayers Burdened by Smoking-Related Ills

News Picture: U.S. Taxpayers Burdened by Smoking-Related Ills

THURSDAY, Dec. 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The health care costs of cigarette smoking in the United States are as much as $170 billion a year, and taxpayers pick up the tab for nearly two-thirds of that amount, a new study says.

Researchers analyzed national data collected between 2004 and 2010 and found that smoking is linked to $45 billion in Medicare spending per year, nearly $40 billion in Medicaid spending per year, and nearly $24 billion in spending for other government-sponsored health insurance programs annually.

Overall, smoking accounted for 8.7 percent of annual health spending in the United States, according to the study published Dec. 10 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Taxpayers are on the hook for 60 percent of the cost of care for smoking-related diseases, said the researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia State University's School of Public Health and RTI International.

Even though smoking rates in the United States have declined in recent years, the costs to society due to smoking have increased, and smoking is a leading cause of serious, preventable disease in the nation, the study authors said.

"Comprehensive tobacco control programs and policies are still needed to continue progress toward ending the tobacco epidemic in the U.S. 50 years after the release of the first Surgeon General's report on smoking and health," the researchers said in a news release from Georgia State University.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Georgia State University, news release, Dec. 10, 2014