Comparative Economic Analysis of Two Smoking Treatments Essay Example

  • Category: Addiction, Health,
  • Pages: 4
  • Words: 922
  • Published: 12 April 2021
  • Copied: 196

I. Introduction

Cigarette smoking is not only extremely damaging to health but also poses a substantial burden on the economy. Cigarette smoking is associated with various types of irreversible lung diseases, numerous cancers, heart disease, and is directly correlated to the more than 480,000 yearly deaths in the U.S. Economically speaking, it is concluded that the United States spends an upwards of an astronomical $300 billion each year on associated smoking health care costs.

In lieu of this burden it poses on individual health and the economy, previous studies have found smoking cessations to be an effective tool for quitting smoking and a very cost-effective allocation of health resources, with the addition of lessening mortality rates in populations, intercepting the accumulation of a disease, and extending health in individuals. Economically, healthcare expenditures have sharply decreased as a result of smoking cessations in the United States according to the American Lung Association – (QUOTE).

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the economic harm achieved by smoking and what method(s) would be the most feasible option for tobacco harm reduction, evaluating smoking cessations such as technological interventions and the use of external nicotine delivery tools. The general rise of technology has benefited the health sector in various ways, notably the advanced delivery of smoking prevention programs. Lastly, this paper will review public policy measures needed to fund tobacco prevention programs and access the demand for tobacco in general.  

II. Model

This paper will use comparative economic research to explain the key economic differences in technological smoking cessations and external nicotine delivery tools, and which method ultimately provides the greatest benefit for the individual. Two important variables will be needed to evaluate and compare these treatment options efficiently - cost and the effectiveness of both treatment options. This paper will also structure a user-friendly table examining the positives and negatives to both treatment options, along with QALY.

The first type of smoking cessation, the use of technology, has been shown to be a very widely used method for quitting smoking.  While there are multiple forms of technological cessations (social media, cell-phone anti-smoking text messages), one of the most popular forms of technological-based smoking intervention has been through the use of the internet. Previous research conducted by Gemma M. J. Taylor suggests that the internet could be a very fundamental technique for quitting smoking due to its low cost and convenience of the various interventions (the internet can generally be accessed by anyone at any point in time). Internet programs also stand the grounds for providing a greater economic benefit for individuals in rural areas who may not have adequate access to health care, as well as the steep cost of transportation of visiting a face-to-face clinic. The opportunity cost of time in reference to visiting an on-site clinic as opposed to a virtual session may be a viable indicator of the popularity of internet based smoking cessations. 

The second type of proposed smoking cessation is through the use of pharmacological nicotine delivery tools, such as varenicline. 

Cost is one of the most important variables to assess when determining which treatment option is the most beneficial. It is also important to analyze the cost of smoking in itself, and why smoking cessations might be in some cases necessary. For example, according to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a study was conducted in 2018 analyzing how smoking cessations can greatly reduce cost burden for employers - aka, lost productivity. In fact, the cost burden to employers on smoking employees is astronomical - with an estimated $5816 indirect costs spent each year due to smoking illnesses.  The study demonstrates that the long-term benefits of smoking cessations equate a higher cost-benefit ratio and greater productivity at work, given the fact indirect costs diminish overtime when quitting - ex. Those who currently smoke equate a large $7,212 indirect cost compared to those who have quit for 5+ years, which amounts to a little over $5,000 dollars.  

III. Results

One could make the argument that, external nicotine supplements essentially provide the user with the same substance - nicotine. While this might seem counterproductive, multiple results indicate that varalencine is one of the most cost-effective measures for smoking cessations. 

When comparing the two treatment options, included is a concluded table illustrating the positive and negatives aspects of both treatment options, given the analysis of both treatment options (CREATE TABLE) 

IV. Policy

In terms of addressing policy for these various issues, the most important aspect would be to assess the demand for tobacco overall, as well as the funding of smoking cessations.

Studies show that a tobacco tax is a very effective policy and could lessen the demand to the extent that it would encourage individuals to greatly reduce cigarette intake and ideally quit altogether. In fact, a 10% tax increase could produce optimistic benefits – it would reduce smoking prevalence by 4% in high-income countries and 8% in low/middle income countries. Likewise, the tax increase would impact younger individuals the most – 7%, indicating price changes are an extremely effective measure in younger individuals (one reason could be due to a less steady state of income.) for lessening the use of tobacco. It is reasonable to conclude a tax increase on tobacco products produces sound health benefits and economic benefits – decreasing tobacco use can subsequently diminish further health care costs, and revenue obtained from taxes can be used to find infrastructure, local projects, and investments.

Another policy implication would be to help fund tobacco prevention in general. Tobacco prevention methods, in general, are not especially widespread in the United States, and one could mistake these programs for being in infancy. This is primarily due to the underfunding of programs in the United States – while states do in fact collect taxes and tobacco payments, most of the money is not allocated efficiently, and according to the American Lung Association less than 3 cents of every dollar obtained is funded towards tobacco reduction programs.