CDC study puts economic loss from smoking at $7 a pack


Thursday, April 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


ATLANTA (AP) _ Each pack of cigarettes sold in the United States costs the nation $7 in medical care and lost productivity, the government said Thursday.

The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the nation's total cost of smoking at $3,391 a year for every smoker, or $157.7 billion. Health experts had previously estimated $96 billion.

Americans buy about 22 billion packs of cigarettes annually. The CDC study is the first to establish a per-pack cost to the nation.

The agency estimated the nation's smoking-related medical costs at $3.45 per pack, and said job productivity lost because of premature death from smoking amounted to $3.73 per pack, for a total of $7.18.

The average cost of a pack of cigarettes in 1999 was $2.92.

The CDC said it analyzed expenses, both personal and for the health care industry, and used national medical surveys to calculate the costs to the nation.

The agency also reported that smoking results in about 440,000 deaths a year in the United States, up from the government's previous figure of 430,000, established in the early 1990s. The new study was conducted from 1995 to 1999.

``The fact that nearly half a million Americans lose their lives each year because of smoking-related illnesses is a significant public health tragedy,'' said Dr. David Fleming, the CDC's acting director.

Representatives from the nation's three leading tobacco companies _ Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and Brown & Williamson _ did not immediately return calls for comment.

Among other findings of the study:

_ Smoking causes an average man to lose more than 13 years of life, and an average woman to lose 14.5 years.

_ Smoking during pregnancy causes about 1,000 infant deaths each year.

_ Lung cancer causes the most deaths among smokers, following by heart disease and lung disease.

_ Men account for about 60 percent of smoking deaths _ 264,000 a year, compared with 178,000 deaths among women.