In 1964, news that lung cancer was linked to smoking hit the masses. Since then, smoking rates have halved, but it is nevertheless still taking a serious toll. According to research from the University of California San Francisco, states are still spending millions (or even billions) of healthcare dollars on smoking. The researchers compiled their data into an interactive map, which displays how much money states spent or saved on smoking in 2009. California, for example, saved over $15 billion that year alone. Kentucky, on the other hand, has smoking rates higher than the national average and spent approximately $1.7 billion.
While these numbers are yet another important public health reminder about the costs of smoking, the researchers' underlying message can be extrapolated to other areas of healthcare as well. Leading healthy, active lifestyles can cut healthcare costs enormously from many different angles. For example, obesity-related health care in 2005 cost the United States $190 billion. Pursuing good health is not just beneficial for the individual; it drives down overall healthcare costs for an entire population and helps set the stage for a happier, healthier society.