Smoking has cost US economy $891B: American Cancer Society

Smoking cost the U.S. economy $436.7 billion in 2020, according to a Sept. 28 report from the American Cancer Society.

The study also estimates that smoking has cost the U.S. a cumulative $891 billion as of 2020 when taking into account the lower income trajectory caused by smoking over the previous decade. That number is nearly 10 times higher than the cigarette industry's $92 billion in revenue, according to the American Cancer Society study, which was published in The Lancet Public Health. 

"Economic losses from cigarette smoking far outweigh any economic benefit from the tobacco industry — wages, and salaries of those employed by the industry, tax revenue and industry profit combined," said Nigar Nargis, PhD, senior scientific director of tobacco control research at the cancer society and lead author of the study, in an ACS press release

Researchers used economic modeling to measure average personal economic loss from cigarette smoking by state, using data such as healthcare expenditures, impacts on the labor supply from smoking-related illness and death, and insurance premium costs. States lost an average of $1,100 income per capita from cigarette smoking, according to the study. The most significant losses were noted in Kentucky, which lost $1,674 per capita; West Virginia, which lost $1,605; and Arkansas, which lost $1,603. States with the smallest losses include Utah at $331, Idaho at $680, and Arizona at $701. 

Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said the damage caused by the cigarette industry impacts people's lives and causes a significant economic impact. 

"It's particularly alarming, but not surprising, to see some of the states with the highest economic loss have the weakest tobacco control policies in place. We know what works to reduce tobacco use and lessen this burden, and it's past time we get it done," Ms. Lacasse said in the press release. 

According to the most recent data from the American Cancer Society, cigarette smoking reached a historic low in 2019. However, 14 percent, or about 34 million people in the U.S., still smoke. Smoking accounts for nearly 30 percent of all cancer deaths.

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