Cigarette smoking is the #1 cause of poor health, disease and death, costing the state of Alaska $536 million dollars in direct medical costs and lost productivity. This amount does not include the health effects from second and third-hand smoke exposure.
Alaska is one of only 16 states that don’t have a statewide smoke-free workplace law. Forty-two percent of the population is not protected from exposure to second-hand smoke in their workplaces.
The US smoking rate has declined by 50% in the last 50 years. However, targeted by the tobacco industry and exposed to second-hand smoke in low-wage jobs, the smoking rate for low-income people has not changed.
According to the CDC, 29% of Medicaid recipients are smokers and Medicaid recipients smoke at 2x the rate of people with private insurance. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 60% of the money spent to treat tobacco related illnesses in the US was paid by government sources.
It is estimated by the Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Annual Report that adopting a smoke-free workplaces law would save Medicaid in Alaska a half a million dollars over 5 years.
The most effective way to reduce smoking rates and smoking related illness is to adopt smoke-free workplace policies. Studies show that after adopting smoke-free workplace policies, rates of hospitalizations for heart attack, stroke, asthma and lung disease were reduced by 15%-20% almost immediately (Circulation. 2012;126:2177-2183).
In addition, rates of preterm birth and babies born small decreased between 5%-11% a year after country-wide smoke-free laws were adopted in Ireland and Scotland (PLoS Med. 2012;9:e1001175). Three hundred thousand dollars were saved over three years in a small town in Mississippi for the treatment of heart attacks only (http://www.ttac.org/resources/pdfs/120810_Miss_Heart_Attack_Report.pdf). While Germany saw a $6.9 million, (20.1%) decrease in heart attack related hospitalization costs during the first year after smoke-free law implementation.
Smokefree workplaces save money and lives.
If you are interested in promoting smokefree workplaces in your community, please contact Tobacco Prevention and Control at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Alaska Lung Association at http://smokefreealaska.com. Or stop by the Quitline table at the Health Fairs.