Quality of Life Research

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 27–35

Quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE) loss due to smoking in the United States

  • Haomiao Jia
  • Matthew M. Zack
  • William W. Thompson
  • Shanta R. Dube

DOI: 10.1007/s11136-012-0118-6

Cite this article as:
Jia, H., Zack, M.M., Thompson, W.W. et al. Qual Life Res (2013) 22: 27. doi:10.1007/s11136-012-0118-6



Estimate quality-adjusted life expectancy (QALE) loss due to smoking and examine trends and state differences in smoking-related QALE loss in the U.S.


Population health-related quality of life (HRQOL) scores were estimated from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. This study constructed life tables based on U.S. mortality files and the mortality linked National Health Interview Survey and calculated QALE for smokers, non-smokers, and the total population.


In 2009, an 18-year-old smoker was expected to have 43.5 (SE = 0.2) more years of QALE, and a non-smoker of the same age was expected to have 54.6 (SE = 0.2) more years of QALE. Therefore, smoking contributed 11.0 (SE = 0.2) years of QALE loss for smokers and 4.1 years (37%) of this loss resulted from reductions in HRQOL alone. At the population level, smoking was associated with 1.9 fewer years of QALE for U.S. adults throughout their lifetime, starting at age 18.


This study demonstrates an application of a recently developed QALE estimation methodology. The analyses show good precision and relatively small bias in estimating QALE––especially at the individual level. Although smokers may live longer today than before, they still have a high disease burden due to morbidities associated with poor HRQOL.


Quality of lifeLife expectancyQuality-adjusted life yearSmokingMortalityMorbidity



Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System


National Health Interview Survey


Medical Expenditure Panel Survey


Health-related quality of life


Quality-adjusted life expectancy


Quality-adjusted life year


Quality of Well-being Scale


Years of potential of life lost


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haomiao Jia
    • 1
  • Matthew M. Zack
    • 2
  • William W. Thompson
    • 2
  • Shanta R. Dube
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health and School of NursingColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health PromotionCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health PromotionCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA