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Nicotine Tob Res. 2006 Jun;8(3):393-401.

Changes in health care costs before and after smoking cessation.

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  • 1Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, WA 98101, USA.


Previous research on health care costs among former smokers suggests that quitters incur greater health care costs for up to 4 years after cessation compared with continuing smokers. However, little is known about the relationship between health care costs and utilization in the periods before as well as after cessation. The present study used a retrospective cohort design with automated health plan and primary data to examine the health care costs and clinical experiences before and after smoking cessation among former smokers compared with a sample of continuing smokers. Subjects were a random sample of adults (aged 25 and older) whose smoking status was identified by a physician during a primary care visit to the Group Health Cooperative (GHC), a nonprofit, integrated health care delivery system in western Washington state. Total direct health care costs among former smokers began to rise in the quarter prior to cessation and were significantly greater (p < .001) than those of continuing smokers in the quarter immediately following cessation. This difference dissipated within one quarter following cessation. We replicated the postquit cost spike among former smokers found by other research and showed that this spike dissipated within the first year postquit. Smoking cessation did not result in sustained cost increases among former smokers.

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