United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention On the Social Costs of Smoking

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. Federal public health agency): Estimated the costs of smoking to society in medical expenses, estimating in 1994 that about $2.06 per pack of cigarettes was spent on the associated medical care costs for smokers.


The abbreviation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention houses the Office on Smoking and Health, which in 1994 was headed by Michael Eriksen.(U.S. News 4/18/94). The CDC did a 1992 national health survey of 12,000 people on smoking.(AP 5/20/94).

In July 1994, the CDC released a study on the U.S. health costs tied to cigarette smoking. "Cigarette smoking in the U.S. costs the national economy at least $50 billion a year in direct medical expenses. The breakdown is: hospital expenditures billion (54% of all smoking related medical costs); doctors (31%); nursing homes (10% ); prescription drugs (4%); and home- health costs (2%); The Centers for Disease Control "estimates that about $2.06 was spent on avoidable medical care costs for each of the 24 billion packs of cigarettes sold in the U.S. last year." The CDC estimates that cigarette smoking was the cause of about 7% of all U.S. health care costs, with the federal and state governments picking up more than 43% of the expenses.(WSJ 7/8/94).

CDC, working with researchers at the University of California, examined data from the 1987 National Medical Expenditures Survey (NMES) and from the Health Care Financing Administration. In the NMES report, 35,000 people were interviewed four times between February 1987 and May 1988. Survey respondents were asked to provide information about their health-insurance coverage, use of medical care and medical care expenditures. The survey results were then adjusted for 1993.(WSJ 7/8/94). Epidemiologist Thomas Novotny worked on the study. Novotny says the $50 billion figure is conservative because it does not include costs from burn victims from cigarette-related fires, perinatal care for low-birth-weight infants of mothers who smoke, or costs associated with diseases caused by second-hand smoke.(WSJ 7/8/94).

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