March 11, 2009

Smoking costs America $101 bn annually in health care

Though use of tobacco is declining in the US compared to developing countries, the habit still costs the country more than $101 billion in health care.

"Annual healthcare costs, both public and private, caused by smoking amount to $96 billion while $5 billion is spent on healthcare related to second-hand smoke. Premature deaths caused by smoking amount to $97 billion in productivity losses," according to the Tobacco Burden Facts on the US, released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, at the ongoing 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Mumbai Tuesday.

According to the data, the US remains the second largest consumer of cigarettes in the world despite a decline in smoking with the percentage of current US adult smokers (above 18 years) decreasing 17 percent now from 1970.

However, smoking is still the leading cause of death, disability and disease, killing approximately 400,000 people each year while 8.6 million people currently suffer from a serious illness attributed to smoking. About 50,000 American adults die from exposure to second-hand smoke each year.

More then 43 million adult Americans smoke, which is less than 20 percent (19.8 percent) of the population, with male smokers (22 percent) outnumbering female smokers (17 percent). Among high school students, 3.5 million (20 percent) are current (past month) smokers, including over 21 percent boys and 18.7 percent girls.

Every day, over 3,500 minors (below 18) try smoking for the first time, and over 1,000 become regular smokers, according to the data.

Tobacco is responsible for 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 80 percent of all deaths due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. On an average, smokers in the US live 13-14 years less than people who do not smoke, according to the data.

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