Cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation

Smoking cessation with counselling and drugs is one of the most cost-effective interventions in medicine for reducing ill health and prolonging life. More than 200 scientific studies have shown this, and the data also show that the more intensive the intervention, the more cost-effective it is. A directory of healthcare programmes which ranked the cost-effectiveness of interventions in relation to quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained showed that giving up smoking following the advice of a general practitioner was ranked third in a list of 21 medical and surgical interventions aimed at preventing or treating diseases.

The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has reported that smoking cessation interventions are highly cost-effective, at €1120–2800 per QALY gained. A recent meta-analysis from the Netherlands of studies in patients with COPD found that the cost per QALY gained was only €2400 for intensive counselling combined with pharmacotherapy.

Research from the USA has shown that insurance coverage of treatment for smoking cessation results in more frequent evidence-based counselling and drug provision and a higher overall cessation rate among the populations covered by this insurance.

Since 2000, the UK National Health Service has offered free counselling and smoking cessation drugs, and the issue of reimbursement is a matter of debate in most other European countries. Reimbursement for counselling and medicine for smoking cessation seems to increase adherence to clinical guidelines and results in more smokers becoming involved in cessation attempts.

See the entire Tabacco smoking Chapter