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Smoking Deaths Cost U.S. $92 Billion a Year

Total costs, including health care, more than $167 billion yearly

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Dateline: July 2005

While fewer Americans light up every day, smoking-related deaths still costs the nation about $92 billion a year in the form of lost productivity, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data, covering the years 1997-2001, represented a $10 billion increase in productivity losses during the years 1995-1999.

The new lost productivity estimate when combined with smoking-related health care costs, which was reported at $75.5 billion in 1998, exceeds $167 billion per year in the United States.

The report also finds that during 1997-2001 an estimated 438,000 premature deaths occur each year as a result of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. In comparison, approximately 440,000 smoking-related deaths were estimated to have occurred annually from 1995-1999.

“Cigarette smoking continues to impose substantial health and financial costs on individuals and society,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding in a press release. "We’ve made good progress in reducing the number of people who smoke, but we have much more work to do. If we want to significantly reduce the toll in this decade, we must provide the 32 million smokers who say they want to quit with the tools and support to do so successfully.”

This latest study updates the number of deaths due to smoking during 1997-2001, specifically updating the 1995-1999 average estimates previously released. It also reports productivity losses from deaths and finds that smoking causes 3.3 million years of potential life lost for men and 2.2 million years for women. Smoking, on average, reduces adult life expectancy by approximately 14 years.

“Despite the slow steady declines in prevalence in the United States, cigarette smoking still causes hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths each year," said Dr. Corinne Husten, acting director, CDC Office on Smoking and Health. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to prevent and reduce tobacco use. People will have longer, healthier lives, and there will be fewer smoking-related costs."

More information about smoking cessation can be found on the CDC's Smoking and Health Web site

One resource now available to all smokers is HHS’ 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The toll-free number is a single access point to the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quitlines. Callers are automatically routed to their state’s quitline services.

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