A new study by the American Lung Association, and conducted by Penn State University researchers, finds that helping smokers quit not only saves lives but also offers favorable economic benefits to states. The study, titled Smoking Cessation: the Economic Benefits, provides a nationwide cost-benefit analysis that compares the costs to society of smoking with the economic benefits of states providing cessation coverage.

The study identifies the costs directly attributable to death and disease caused by smoking. The findings show that smoking results in costs to the US economy of more than $301 billion. This includes workplace productivity losses of $67.5 billion, costs of premature death at $117 billion, and direct medical expenditures of $116 billion.

The study also calculates the combined medical and premature death costs and workplace productivity losses per pack of cigarettes. The nationwide average retail pack of cigarettes is $5.51. The costs and workplace productivity losses nationwide equal $18.05—more than 300% of the average retail price of a cigarette pack.

In addition to identifying the costs of smoking to the US economy, the study provides state governments with economic reasons to help smokers quit. For example, the study finds that if states were to invest in comprehensive smoking cessation benefits, each would receive, on average of 26% return on investment. In other words, for every dollar spent on helping smokers quit, states would see on average a return of $1.26.

Some states (and the District of Columbia) would see a higher return than others. The study finds that the District of Columbia would receive the highest return on its investment. For every dollar spent on smoking cessation treatments, it would see a return of $1.94. Other states with higher than average returns include: Louisiana ($1.47), Massachusetts ($1.43), Maine ($1.41), Ohio ($1.41), and North Dakota ($1.41).

The study derives these economic benefits by considering lower medical costs due to fewer people smoking, increased productivity in the workplace, and reduced absenteeism and premature death due to smoking.

Source: American Lung Association