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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Health care utilization and expenditures attributable to smokeless tobacco use among US Adults

  • Author(s): Wang, Y
  • Sung, HY
  • Lightwood, J
  • Chaffee, BW
  • Yao, T
  • Max, W
  • et al.

© The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. All rights reserved. Introduction This study estimated the health care utilization and expenditures attributable to the use of smokeless tobacco (ST) which includes chewing tobacco, snuff, dip, snus, and dissolvable tobacco among US adults aged 18 and older. Methods We used data from the 2012-2015 National Health Interview Surveys (n = 139451 adults) to estimate a zero-inflated Poisson (ZIP) regression model on four health care utilization measures among US adults (hospital nights, emergency room [ER] visits, doctor visits, and home care visits) specified as a function of tobacco use status, and other covariates. Tobacco use status was classified into four categories: current ST users, former ST users, non-ST tobacco users, and never tobacco users. ST-attributable utilization was calculated based on the estimated ZIP model using an "excess utilization" approach. It was then multiplied by the unit cost estimated from the 2014 Medical Expenditures Panel Survey data to derive ST-attributable health care expenditures. Results During 2012-2015, 2.1% of adults were current ST users and 7.7% were former ST users. ST-attributable health care utilization amounted to 681000 hospital nights, 624000 ER visits, and 4.6 million doctor visits per year (home care visits results were not significant). This resulted in annual excess expenditures of $1.8 billion for hospitalizations, $0.7 billion for ER visits, and $0.9 billion for doctor visits, totaling over $3.4 billion (in 2014 dollars). Conclusion Comprehensive tobacco control policies and interventions are needed to reduce ST use and the associated health care burden. Implications This is the first study to assess the impact of ST use on health care burden in the United States. Findings indicate that excess annual health care expenditures attributable to ST use for US adults were $3.4 billion in 2014 dollars.

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