California’s low rate of lung cancer deaths saved nearly 5,000 lives in 2014 — and saved Californians at least $500 million just in that year, according to a CALmatters analysis in consultation with public health researchers. Those savings will likely grow into billions of dollars in the decades ahead, experts say.
Earlier this month, a study from the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine found California’s rate of lung cancer mortality was 28 percent lower than the rest of the country in 2014, the most recent year of available data. The study’s authors attributed California’s low number of lung cancer deaths to the state’s early and aggressive anti-smoking initiatives.
If California had the same rate of lung cancer deaths as the rest of the country, on average, roughly 4,700 more Californians would have died in 2014. Those terminal patients would have cost an estimated $546 million in hospitalization expenses alone that year, according to a CALmatters analysis vetted by public health experts at UC San Francisco and UC San Diego.