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FOR RELEASE: April 16, 2002
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

State Smoking-Caused Deaths Exceed National Rates, Economic Burden Nearly Doubles

Oklahomans continue to suffer more from the health effects of tobacco use as compared to other states, according to reports issued last week by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC said smoking-caused death rates in Oklahoma remain significantly higher than the national average. In addition, the economic costs related to smoking in Oklahoma have increased by at least $1 billion since 1993, from $1.2 billion per year to $2.2 billion per year.

The findings indicate that Oklahoma is about 10 percent higher than the national rate for smoking-caused lung cancer deaths, 25 percent higher for smoking-caused coronary heart disease deaths, and 20 percent higher for smoking-caused chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

The reports also estimated that smoking costs Oklahoma $907 million in direct medical expenditures and an additional $1.3 billion in productivity losses each year. Combined, the annual costs of smoking-caused disease in Oklahoma now exceed $2.2 billion, or an average of more than $600 per Oklahoman. The previous total cost estimate in Oklahoma, based on 1993 health data, was about $1.2 billion per year.

Oklahoma’s Medicaid program spends an estimated $170 million per year for treating smoking-caused disease, of which $51 million is paid with state money; the remainder is federal match. The previous estimate of smoking-caused Medicaid costs in Oklahoma was $80 million per year, including $24 million in state funds.

CDC also reported wide variations among states in the investments being made in tobacco control programs, ranging from $0.33 to $19.16 per capita. Oklahoma will spend $1.09 per capita on tobacco prevention and cessation programs this year, ranking the state 38th in the nation. The level of investment in comprehensive tobacco control programs has been shown to have an independent and significant effect on reducing consumption of tobacco products.

“All Oklahomans, smokers and nonsmokers alike, are now spending an average of $600 per year to cover costs associated with smoking. The tobacco industry spends an average of $30 per Oklahoman per year promoting their deadly products in Oklahoma. Meanwhile, we’re only spending about $1 per Oklahoman to prevent tobacco use among our youth and to help smokers quit,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch. “Dramatic results in a growing number of states clearly show that you get what you pay for. Our future health and economic impacts will be directly related to the direction that Oklahoma takes now to prevent and control tobacco use.”

Other CDC findings include:

  • Each pack of cigarettes sold in the United States costs the nation an estimated $7.18 in medical care costs and lost productivity.
  • The economic costs of smoking are estimated to be about $3,391 per smoker per year.
  • Nationally, infant mortality due to smoking during pregnancy is estimated to exceed 1,000 deaths each year with related expenditures estimated at $366 million, or an average of $704 per maternal smoker.

The online version of Tobacco Control State Highlights 2002: Impact and Opportunity provides current state-based information on the prevalence of tobacco use, tobacco control funding, and tobacco excise tax for 48 states and the District of Columbia and can be viewed at www.cdc.gov/tobacco/statehi/statehi_2002.htm. Also released last week was Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Economic Costs - United States, 1995-1999, which can be viewed at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5114a2.htm.

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