Statistical Model Developed to Estimate the Medical Costs of Smoking in All 50 States

Determining current costs of cigarette smoking

From 1994 to 1996, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Social Welfare developed a statistical model designed to estimate the medical care expenditures that were attributable to current and past cigarette smoking in the aggregate and for each of the 50 states.

Such estimates were considered essential to:

  • Health policy-makers assessing the cost effectiveness of smoking-cessation programs and other public health interventions.
  • Legislators evaluating proposed tobacco control initiatives.
  • Legal professionals analyzing potential liability in several current and future legal cases.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation Program national program.

Key Findings

  • Based on 1987–88 data from the 1987–88 National Medical Expenditures Survey-2 (NMES-2, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
    • The estimated total expected medical expenditures in the United States in 1987 were $3.265 trillion.
    • The smoking attributable medical expenditures in 1987 were $212.275 billion.
    • The fraction of expected medical expenditures attributable to smoking was 6.5 percent.
  • An estimated 7.13 percent of ambulatory expenditures, 2.05 percent of prescription expenditures, 6.85 percent of hospital expenditures, and 7.47 percent of home health expenditures of individuals over age 18 in the United States were attributable to smoking.
  • Estimated smoking-attributable Medicaid expenditures averaged 5.64 percent of state Medicaid budgets from 1980 to 1993.