The World Health Organization (WHO) released a report in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute of the United States on the impact of tobacco control on the global economy. The report claims that globally $1 trillion are spent on tobacco use and related healthcare service provision, per annum.
While the report found several insights into the global trends of tobacco use and associated expenditure, a significant finding reached which looked at the economic impact of tobacco control on poor countries.
The report was also covered by British Medical Journal (BMJ) just recently which is likely to have a long-lasting impact on the tobacco use control at the global level.
It was highlighted that the middle and low-income countries benefit more from the tobacco control interventions, comparing with the results in high-income countries.
Knowing that, in some of these low-income countries, 10-15% income is spent in purchasing tobacco products, which according to a US study reaches up to 25% of the annual spending in contrary to only 2.2% spending on tobacco products purchase in high-income countries; was a shocker.
The access to healthcare and the disparity between the rich and poor in these low-income countries had been another factor which makes the people from poor countries suffer more from the tobacco-use related health conditions. Thus, introducing tobacco control interventions in these countries leads to better health and economic results.
At present, over 6 million people fall prey at the hands of tobacco use and loss their lives due to the related health conditions every year. By year 2030, the extrapolated estimations suggest that these figures will rise to 8 million. An intriguing revelation reaches us in this context, suggesting that out of all these estimated deaths; over 80% deaths will be contributed by low and middle-income countries.
Tobacco smoke is said to be carrying over 7,000 chemicals out of which, 250 chemicals are known to cause harmful effects on the health; out of these 250 identified chemicals; at least 69 chemical are classified as carcinogenic chemicals. Collectively, these chemicals make individuals suffer in one way or the other through first-hand or second-hand tobacco use.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NIH), tobacco use is linked with causing dozens of health conditions, which majorly include cancers, stroke, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, exacerbation of asthma, cataracts, diabetes and age-related macular degeneration.
Similarly, smokers have a greater risk of developing respiratory conditions which include tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. Other than that, smoking damages the smoker’s immune system and triggers inflammation. The adverse health effects of smoking are not confined here but they extend to interfere with the reproductive function of women. Women who smoke during their pregnancy is increasingly prone of having miscarriages and ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo attached to an area outside of uterus, usually it is in the fallopian tubes of the ovaries, resulting in loss of pregnancy and sometimes become life threating for the woman).
On the contrary, if smoker mothers successfully give birth to a child, they increase their child’s likelihood of premature birth, lower weight at birth and facial abnormalities. These children are also at a risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In addition to this, recent research has also shown that parental smoking impacts significantly at the neuropsychological development of their child and put them at a risk of suffering from ADHD (attention deficient hyperactivity disorder).
The WHO reports reckon that although the prevalence of tobacco use had not observed an increase globally, the number of tobacco users had not improved either due to the increasing population. At present, individuals who are at the age of 15 years or above indulge themselves in tobacco smoke, which makes over a 21% of global population. This activity includes the intake of harmful tobacco smoke through the use of cigarettes, kreteks, waterpipe, cigars and bidis.
All these reasons cumulatively account for increased tobacco-smoke related disease burden which include premature deaths in people at the age of 30 years. The death toll is attributed to 14% deaths caused by non-communicable diseases (which include cancer, lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases) and 5% deaths caused by communicable disease (which includes contagious diseases like lower respiratory tract infects and TB).
With these overwhelming statistics, the experts have yet again highlighted the public health risk inflicted upon the world by the tobacco news.
What was even more benefitting to the cause of tobacco use control understood the dynamics of global economics in connection with tobacco use and tobacco use control interventions.
The researchers signified that, the claims of tobacco manufacturers were not supported by the study which suggested that reducing the production and consumption of tobacco products leave a negative impact on the economy of countries.
The study concluded that tobacco control had no harmful efforts on economies. Employment opportunities in the sector of tobacco manufacturing saw a dip largely due to the introduction of innovative methods and better machineries; not due to the tobacco control interventions.
It was also noted that the tobacco control interventions were cost effective, which includes increased taxation on tobacco products, ban on marketing activities of tobacco product manufacturers, having a pictorial warming on the product packaging and enforcing smoke-free rules. However, it was unsettling to learn that the revenue collection from taxation on tobacco products was not effectively being channelized by governments for tobacco control.
But it is comforting to know the efforts from WHO and its partners are fruitful in lowering the tobacco use rates in countries from South East Asia and Europe.