August 29, 2022 – Nearly 123,000 cancer deaths – or nearly 30% of all cancer deaths – in the United States in 2019 were linked to cigarettes. smokingsuggests a new analysis.
This equates to more than two million people a year of life lost and nearly $21 billion in lost annual profits.
“Over the past few decades, smoking has decreased dramatically in the United States, followed by a significant decrease in deaths from lung cancer and some other smoking-related cancers,” says lead author Farhad Islami, senior scientific director for cancer contrast research at the American Cancer Society.
Despite this “remarkable progress, our results indicate that smoking is still associated with about 30% of all cancer deaths and significant lost earnings in the United States, and that more efforts should be done to reduce smoking in the country,” he said.
The study Posted online August 10 in International Journal of Cancer.
Islami and colleagues found that lost earnings from cancer deaths in 2015 amounted to nearly $95 billion. Other research has shown that a significant portion of the profits lost from cancer deaths can be traced back to cigarette smoking, but estimates have been more than a decade old.
To provide more recent estimates and help guide tobacco Censorship policies as judged by Islami and his colleagues Years of Life Lost (PYLL)and lost profits from cancer deaths associated with cigarette smoking in 2019.
Of the 418,563 cancer deaths among adults aged 25 to 79, an estimated 122,951 can be linked to cigarette smoking. This equates to 29.4% of all cancer deaths and about 2.2 million PYLLs. Translated into lost earnings, the authors estimated a total of $20.9 billion, with an average lost income of $170,000 per smoking-related cancer death.
By type of cancer, lung cancer accounted for about 62%, or $12.9 billion, of total lost income related to smoking, followed by esophageal cancer (7% or $1.5 billion), colorectal cancer (6% or $1.2 billion), and liver cancer (5% or $1.1 billion).
Smoking-related mortality rates were the highest in the 13 “tobacco state” states with weaker tobacco control policies and a higher rate of cigarette smoking. These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
The lost earnings rate in all thirteen tobacco states combined was about 44% higher, than the other states and the District of Columbia combined, and the annual PYLL rate was 47% higher in the national tobacco states.
The researchers estimated that if the PYLL and lost earnings rates in all states matched those in Utah, which has the lowest rates, more than half of the total PYLL and lost earnings would be avoided nationally. In other words, that could mean savings of PYLL 1.27 million and $10.5 billion in 2019.
Ending the Tobacco Scourge
To kick the smoking habit, health providers should “screen patients for tobacco use, document tobacco use status, advise people who smoke to quit, and assist with quit attempts,” says Islami.
It’s also important to get more people screened for lung cancer in the United States, given that only 6.6% of eligible people in 2019 got screened.
In a statement, Lisa Lakas, president of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Network, said this report “further demonstrates how important it is to reduce tobacco use to end suffering and death from cancer.”
To end the “tobacco scourge,” she said, local, state and federal lawmakers need to pass proven tobacco control policies.
These include regular and significant increases in tobacco taxes, statewide smoke-free laws, and adequate funding for state smoking prevention and cessation programs. It also means everything is guaranteed Medicaid Registrants have access to all services that can help smokers quit as well as access to all FDA-approved medications that help users quit.
“We have the tools to get this done, we just need lawmakers to act,” Lakas said.