Employers hoping to cut health care costs look first toward low-hanging fruit, such as encouraging employees to reduce or eliminate unhealthy behaviors - and perhaps none is more preventable than smoking. Certainly few are more expensive - a smoker costs a company $12,000 more a year than a nonsmoker, with the total annual medical price tag running north of $95 billion. Tack on another $97 billion a year that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smokers cause in lost productivity, and it's easy to see why CFOs and benefits managers would want to put smokers clearly in their sights.

"If you want to affect future health care costs, tobacco is the way to go," says Chris Bostic, deputy director for policy at Action on Smoking and Health, citing a study conducted in California that revealed for every dollar the state spent on tobacco prevention, it saved $18 in health care costs.

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