Think vaping is cheap?
A study from the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing reports that annual health care costs for users of electronic cigarettes were $2,024 more per person than for those who use no tobacco products.
That adds up to about $15 billion a year in the United States.
"Health care costs attributable to e-cigarette use are already greater than our estimates of health care costs attributable to cigar and smokeless tobacco use," said lead study author Yingning Wang, a health economist at the university's Institute for Health and Aging. "This is a concerning finding, given that e-cigarettes are a relatively new product whose impact is likely to increase over time."
For the study, Wang and her team used the 2015 to 2018 U.S. National Health Interview Survey to estimate health care costs, including nights in the hospital, trips to the emergency room, doctor visits and home visits.
Principal investigator Wendy Max, director of the institute, noted that researchers weren't able to look at e-cigarette use among youth under 18. But she offered a cautionary note.
"If more young people continue to take up vaping and keep on using this product when they become adults, the negative impacts on health care costs are likely to increase over time," she said in a university news release.
Max noted that e-cigarette use by high school students grew significantly to nearly 21% in 2018, from 4.5% in 2013.
Reducing related illness and health care costs will require continued tobacco control efforts in youth, the study authors said.
"Even with the current relatively low use of e-cigarettes among adults - 3.7% - health care costs are already substantial, and likely to increase in the future if youth continue to use this product," Max said.
The findings were published May 23 in the journal Tobacco Control.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on vaping.
SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, news release, May 23, 2022