SMOKING CESSATION programs are the most cost-effective preventive intervention available to clinicians practicing in health care systems today. Overall, such programs cost about $2000 per year of life saved. In contrast, mammographic screening for breast cancer costs about $50 000 per year of life saved.
In addition, the more intensive the intervention, the more cost-effective it is. All interventions are effective, but longer, more intensive ones are even more cost-effective than a 3-minute comment to the patient about the hazards of smoking.
These are 2 of the findings of an unreleased study on the cost-effectiveness of antismoking programs commissioned by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR).
One of the key issues involved in implementing the smoking cessation guidelines recently published by the agency (JAMA. 1996;275:1270-1280) is cost-effectiveness, and the AHCPR has commissioned a study to look into the issue. At a meeting on smoking cessation strategies held