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Thursday, October 16, 2014

More California Residents Die From Smoking Than AIDS, Study Says

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 8:49 AM

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You might be surprised by this fact, considering the only place left to legally smoke in San Francisco is in the way of oncoming traffic. Still, some 12 percent of the state lights up on a daily basis, making it the leading cause of death, according to a new UCSF study. 

Researchers at UCSF got a snapshot of tobacco use throughout the state using data from 2009, the most recent statistics they could grab. What they found was depressing: more than one in seven deaths were due to smoking. 

In short: more people are dying from smoking than AIDS, influenza, and diabetes.

It's not just costing lives, but lots and lots of money. Researchers found that smoking took a $18.1 billion toll in California, or to make it personal, it was costing $487 for each resident.
Per the study:

While the number of smokers in California declined from a decade ago, and fewer cigarettes were smoked on a daily basis, nearly four million people still smoked, including an estimated 146,000 adolescents. 

“We found that while the California tobacco control program has led to reductions in tobacco use in the state over the last decade, smoking is still far too prevalent and results in far too many deaths and high healthcare costs,” said Wendy Max, professor of health economics at the UCSF School of Nursing and director of the UCSF Institute for Health & Aging.

In the new report, the UCSF researchers profiled the state’s 58 counties with total costs, costs per resident and per smoker, expenditures for each type of health care, smoking prevalence and mortality measures. Here's some damning highlights they found:
  • Among adults who smoked, a majority were “light” smokers who abstained some days or smoked fewer than 10 cigarettes a day (61 percent of women and 59.7 percent of men)

  • More adult men than women smoked: 2.4 million (17.2 percent of men) versus 1.4 million (10.1 percent of women). The same was true for adolescent boys and girls, 5.8 percent versus 3.2 percent;

  • The cost of smoking was higher for men than women: $11.7 billion compared to $6.4 billion;

  •  Total costs in 2009 rose by 15 percent compared to the costs in 1999, from $15.8 billion to $18.1 billion; when adjusted for inflation, however, real costs actually decreased by 22 percent between 1999 and 2009.

  • Altogether, smoking represented $6.8 billion in lost productivity and about 587,000 years of potential life lost from 34,363 deaths, or 17.1 years per death, the researchers found.

  • In California, 34,363 total deaths from smoking were 17 times the number from AIDS; five times the deaths from diabetes, influenza and pneumonia; and three times the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease and unintentional injuries. 

  • The leading cause of smoking-attributable death was cancer (13,514 deaths), followed by cardiovascular disease (10,490), respiratory diseases (10,331), and pediatric disease (27). Secondhand smoke exposure caused 794 adult deaths.

  • And lastly,current and former smokers were eating up  $4.3 billion (43.9 percent) of the $9.8 billion total health care costs of smoking. Ambulatory care services were $2.1 billion (20.9 percent), nursing home care $1.5 billion (15.4 percent), prescription drugs $1.1 billion and home health care $794 million.
Hopefully, that morning cigarette you just had was your last.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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