A new study predicts a saving of nearly $400,000 in health care costs associated with heart attacks, lung cancer, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary (COPD) over ten years, if 1000 Australians quit smoking.
The study, authored by Professor Susan Hurley and Dr Jane Matthews, also describes the many health benefits of quitting.
For example, if a 50-54 year old male smoker quits, his probability of being diagnosed with lung cancer, COPD, stroke or heart attack in the next 10 years is reduced by 40%.
Quitting smoking also reduces his probability of dying by 35% over the next ten years.
The VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control at The Cancer Council Victoria commissioned the study, published in the international journal, Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation.
Professor Hurley said the figures further highlighted the economic benefits of reducing smoking rates in Australia.
"Overall for every 1000 people who quit smoking, there is an average saving of $373,000 in health care costs associated with the four major smoking-caused diseases."
"This study emphasises that an increase in the number of smokers quitting their deadly habit will not only translate into a significant improvement in health outcomes, but also an impressive reduction in health care costs."
Executive Director of Quit Victoria, Mr Todd Harper, said the study underlines how important it is to continue the momentum of the last year, which saw huge number of Australians quitting smoking.
"Quitting not only improves an individual's chances of avoiding smoking-caused diseases, but can also translate into substantial benefits for the Australian health care system."
"The introduction of graphic health warnings on cigarettes, hard-hitting quit smoking campaigns and state-based tobacco reform has created the perfect environment for smokers to quit, with calls to the Quitline doubling in 2006."
"We hope this year, with a continuation of quit smoking mass media campaigns and the introduction of smokefree bars and clubs in a number of States, even more Australians will be encouraged to quit smoking."
Chief Executive Officer of VicHealth, Dr Rob Moodie, said investment in strategies that prevent people from taking up smoking, and encourage those who smoke to quit will reap tremendous rewards for the Australian system in the future.
"Funding for tobacco control and quit smoking mass media campaigns is the best value for money buy in healthcare, and should be regarded not as a cost but as an investment in protecting the long-term viability of the health care system."
"As this study illustrates, efforts to reduce the number of Australians smoking will amount to millions of healthcare dollars saved and more importantly many smoking-caused diseases prevented and lives saved," said Dr Moodie.
To view the study online go to: www.resource-allocation.com/content/5/1/2
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