How do you fight the $13 billion big tobacco companies spend each year to promote their addictive product? [The ethics of spending billions to promote a known cancer-causing agent is an issue for another time] Well, if you live in sunny California you take the same approach to this problem as you do to most others: you throw money at it.
California spent $1.8 billion combating smoking over a 15-year period. Sure, it's a drop in the bucket compared to big tobacco's spending. But, the payoff was impressive. A study conducted by the University of California San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education showed California got a hefty return on their money.
The group estimates California saved $86 billion over the 15-year effort. That's close to a 50-fold return on their money. In today's market that's quit a trick. The savings are based on the reduction in costs to provide health care for smoking related disease.
The fascinating aspect of California's initiative is that it focused on adults - most programs typically focus on teens, in an effort to prevent them from becoming first-time smokers. California pursued an aggressive media campaign aimed at encouraging adults to quit smoking. They combined their media blitz with public policy directives aimed at creating smoke-free environments.
So, that money California threw at the tobacco problem? Bull's eye!