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If Just 10% of Americans Stopped Smoking, We’d Be $63 Billion Richer

Ethan Wolff-Mann
Within a year.
Within a year.

There’s no doubt that cigarette smoking is an expensive habit—even if you don’t live an area like New York City that taxes them so heavily that a pack can top $14. But the cigarettes themselves are just one part of it. According to the CDC, smoking causes around one in five deaths in America, and those deaths tend to be especially expensive ones.

A recent study by the University of San Francisco in California puts a number on what cigarette smoking costs the U.S., and the numbers are staggering.

In 2009, for example, California’s below-the-national-average smoking rate saved it $15 billion, while Kentucky’s greater-than-average rate cost it an extra $2 billion on heath care.

Most astonishingly, the researchers found that a fairly small reduction in smoking—just 10%—could result in a savings of $63 billion in national healthcare costs.

It’s important to note that these potential savings don’t require generations to come to fruition. We’d save that $63 billion within a year. People who stop smoking at any age are immediately less likely to incur large medical expenses.

To put it another way, it’s really never too late to save your own life.

[h/t Science News Journal]