Cardiovascular disease, COPD, cancer, and more—smoking is a well-known and important risk factor for various illnesses. However, according to a recent study, the negative effects of smoking are evident long before the diagnosis of smoking-related diseases. The Finnish study published in March 2016 reveals that by the age of 46, smokers already use significantly more primary health care services than never-smokers.
The study assessed utilization of primary health care services by almost five thousand 46-year-olds belonging to the Northern Finland Birth Cohort. Visits to both occupational and public health care professionals were determined and categorized, and the mean costs were calculated.
According to the study, smokers use more primary health care services than never-smokers and are especially more likely to visit a dentist or a physician. Annual primary health care cost for smokers was at least one fifth higher than never-smokers: this equals more than €100 extra cost per person each year.
“At the population level, this extra cost caused by smoking is significant”, states Juha Auvinen, the research physician and coordinator of the Northern-Finland Birth Cohort.
The cost of smoking is known to add a significant burden to the public economy in several ways: sick leave, associated lost productivity, as well as health care utilization. Placing additional effort into smoking cessation of working-age people might not only reduce smoking-related mortality and morbidity but also decrease health care costs.
The study was conducted as a collaboration between MedEngine Oy, University of Oulu, and Pfizer Ltd.
Keto J, Ventola H, Jokelainen J, Timonen M, Linden K, Ylisaukko-oja T, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi S, Auvinen J. Primary health care utilisation and its costs among middle-aged smokers. Eur J Health Econ. 2016 (Mar 23). (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10198-016-0793-2)