A new study shows how much smokers are taxing our health care system.

The University of Manitoba says the province spends an additional $244 million on health care for smokers per year.

The study compared two similar groups of people. One group that smoked and one that did not.

It found that the people who smoked visited the hospital more and were 10 times more likely to develop specific forms of cancer.

It also found that the life expectancy of smokers was only one to two years less than non-smokers.

"But then when we looked at what their life was like, we found that those that were smoking were going to the doctor more, they were in the hospital 20 per cent more, they were staying in hospital longer so 20 per cent more days in hospital, they were using more prescription drugs," said Dr. Nathan Nickel, a research scientist.

The study says overall numbers of smokers have steadily dropped.

Researchers analyzed 23 years worth of data for the study.