Tobacco companies and their products have cost Contra Costa $540 million dollars, according to a new study just released by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP). Contra Costa ranks ninth in the state for the highest cost of smoking and ninth for the most direct healthcare costs attributable to smoking. While the smoking rate in California has decreased by 50 percent over the last two decades, the price tag for tobacco use continues to increase in the state and Contra Costa County because of inflation and the rising cost of healthcare, the report explains.
The TRDRP-funded “Cost of Smoking in California” report—which was recently completed by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) researchers, Drs. Wendy Max and HaiYen Sung—analyzes the economic burden of smoking, including direct healthcare costs and indirect costs from lost productivity due to illness and premature death. The report is the third in a series of reports on California smoking-attributable costs, following reports done in 1989 and 1999.
Overall, the total cost of smoking per pack in California is $17.46. Tax revenues generated by tobacco sales do not compensate for the costs imposed by smoking. According to the report, smoking costs $21 for every $1 of cigarette tax revenue generated.
Mary Jaccodine, Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Coalition Co-Chair, said the report shows that despite progress in the fight against smoking, tobacco use still has a huge cost to society. “It’s more than an economic cost. There is a huge human cost. You can’t put a price on the suffering caused by tobacco-related disease and death,” Jaccodine said. “We also know that ninety percent of all adults who smoke, began smoking as children. Right now, the industry is spending 90% of their marketing dollars in the retail environment. If we want these numbers to look better in ten years, we have to look at what is marketed and sold in the stores children pass on the way to school.”
Cigarette smoking is known to be a leading cause of preventable death in the United States and in California, accounting for one out of seven deaths. Smoking still accounts for more deaths than deaths from many other causes:
- 17 times the deaths from AIDS
- 5 times the deaths from diabetes
- 5 times the deaths from influenza and pneumonia
- 3 times the deaths from unintentional injuries
- 3 times the deaths from Alzheimer’s disease
Significant strides have been made in tobacco control, resulting in smoking-attributable deaths decreasing by 20 percent throughout the state since the last report. Much of the progress in Contra Costa is due to local tobacco control laws that reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and youth access to tobacco, said Jaccodine.
“Contra Costa has been at the forefront of tobacco control since the 1980’s. There is still a lot of work to do, but I’m optimistic that we will continue to make great progress. When our Coalition started thirty years ago, secondhand smoke protections seemed radical and now ten communities in our County have them. Our next frontier is tackling tobacco industry influences in the retail environment. I can’t wait to see what kind of progress we have made when the next Cost of Smoking Report comes out.”
To read the “Cost of Smoking” report, visit http://www.trdrp.org/ or http://www.trdrp.org/funded-research/cost-smoking-ca.html