Lung Association: Smoking costs state $7.7 billion annually

  • Comments
  • Print
Listen to this story

Subscriber Benefit

As a subscriber you can listen to articles at work, in the car, or while you work out. Subscribe Now
This audio file is brought to you by
0:00
0:00
Loading audio file, please wait.
  • 0.25
  • 0.50
  • 0.75
  • 1.00
  • 1.25
  • 1.50
  • 1.75
  • 2.00

A study released Wednesday by the American Lung Association contends that productivity loss and medical expenses resulting from smoking costs Indiana $7.7 billion annually.

The study, conducted by researchers at Penn State University, also said tobacco use kills 9,700 Hoosiers every year.

Lindsay Grace, manager of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Indiana, vouched for the results.

“The Lung Association wouldn’t want to associate itself with numbers that might not be accurate,” she said. “We want to provide the most scientific numbers that we can.

Conversely, though, smokers die about 10 years earlier than nonsmokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which provides a savings to Medicare, Social Security and other programs.

The Penn State study found that if Indiana were to invest in comprehensive smoking cessation benefits, the state would receive a 19-percent return on its investment. So for every dollar spent on helping smokers quit, the study said Indiana would see an average return of $1.19.

Convincing state legislators to expand Indiana’s smoking cessation program might be a tough sell, though, particularly when the state is grappling with a massive revenue shortfall.

Legislation last session introduced by State Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, attempted to abolish the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency and move its function into the Indiana State Department of Health.

The bill, which never advanced out of its assigned committee, said the change could have saved the state up to $1.1 million annually.

Legislators formed the anti-tobacco agency a decade ago. They designed it to utilize Indiana’s portion of the 1998 national Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry. The $200 billion settlement closed separate lawsuits from 46 states against major tobacco manufacturers over smoking-related health problems.

The vast majority of the agency’s funds underwrite tobacco-cessation programs, such as local educational outreach programs in schools, advertising campaigns and a telephone hotline to assist people who want to quit smoking.

The American Lung Association said in its report that smoking is the top preventable cause of illness and death in Indiana, and surveys show that 80 percent of tobacco users want to quit.

Meanwhile, the study’s conclusion that smoking costs Indiana $7.7 billion annually included $3 billion in premature death costs, $2.6 billion in direct medical expenses and $2 billion in productivity losses.

Further, the study said every pack of cigarettes purchased in Indiana at a price of $5.13 ends up costing the state $15.90.

State Rep. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington, who is a practicing cancer nurse at Bloomington Hospital, described the results of the report as “staggering.”

“Smoking imposes a heavy financial burden on Indiana and in this time of economic crisis, we can no longer afford to supplement this dangerous habit,” she said in a written statement. “As a state, we need to do better to help our citizens quit smoking.”

Adult smoking rates in Indiana last year dropped to a level not seen since at least 1999, according to Indiana State Department of Health statistics released in April.

Tobacco results in the annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey indicate that the percentage of adult smokers in Indiana fell almost three points to 23.1 from 2008 to 2009, the lowest amount since collections began in 1999.

Still, the rate is higher than the national average of 18 percent.
 

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In