S.F. State professor says states could save money by funding anti-smoking efforts

Sudip Chattopadhyay

The San Francisco State University economics professor Sudip Chattopadhyay says that if states funded anti-smoking efforts at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they could save 14 to 20 times their investment — at least $6 billion for California alone. Chattopadhyay and colleague David Pieper of UC Berkeley published their findings Monday in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy.

How could states save money by spending it on smoking prevention?

Medical costs, Medicaid costs, productivity costs. They are calculated by an actuarial model.

How much is California spending on tobacco prevention, and how much should it spend?

California is making $2 billion every year through [tobacco] taxes and the master settlement agreement [with tobacco companies in 1998]. They have been spending $80 million on tobacco abatement, which is 4 percent. CDC’s recommendation was $441 million.

What is the state doing with that money?

Most of the money is spent on [something] other than tobacco prevention. It’s spent in random ways. … States are facing crisis, there’s no doubt, but when the benefits are so much more than the costs, that’s not the right way.

Are you hoping California will pay attention to this study?

California is below average. I’ll send a letter to the control funding wing of the state administration in Sacramento. It makes sense to write to the new governor, too. … That’s my plan.

 

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