Study leader Leighton Ku of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services said the research shows investing in smoking cessation programs can result in lower levels of smoking, which in turn lead to reductions in hospital admissions for heart related problems and significant savings for Medicaid.
The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, found every dollar spent in program costs resulted in an average program savings of $3.12, which represents a $2.12 return on investment.
"Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States," Ku said in a statement. "Millions of low-income smokers in the United States are insured by Medicaid. In 2004, smoking-related Medicaid expenditures for all states combined was $22 billion, which represented 11 percent of all Medicaid spending."
The researchers came up with their estimates using data from the 2002 to 2008 Medical Expenditure Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Surveys.
A smoking cessation program in Massachusetts, which offered a wide range of smoking cessation medications, as well as individual and group counseling for Medicaid recipients, was estimated to have saved an average of $388 per user per year, Ku added.