Dear Editor: With all of the recent discussions about jobs and the economy, it’s a perfect time to hold the Great American Smokeout. Why? Smoking is expensive. The direct and indirect costs of preventable health risks like smoking are detrimental to our economy. It’s not surprising that many employers promote smoking cessation programs as a strategy for business sustainability.
A report published this year by the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention reveals that “smokers’ health care costs are approximately 34 percent higher per year than non-smokers” and “an investment in programs designed to reduce adult smoking will lead to improved health outcomes, resulting in lower health care costs and more affordable health insurance premiums.”
Despite these alarming figures, Wisconsin’s funding for tobacco prevention and control is 12 times lower than what is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. This places a huge burden on employers, especially small-business owners, who must absorb these costs.
Research conducted by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids shows that every dollar we invest in tobacco prevention can save $3.60 in tobacco-related health care costs. The UW-CTRI study demonstrates that “every smoker who quits saves the state of Wisconsin over $1,600 in medical and other health care costs.” Imagine the ways this money could be reinvested! We need increased public funding in Wisconsin for tobacco prevention and control programs.
All of Madison College’s campuses are 100 percent tobacco-free. We invite you to participate in the Great American Smokeout and join us in supporting tobacco prevention efforts. Together we can transform lives, one at a time.
Lisa Lanting, employee health & wellness, Madison College