Over six million people are killed each year from causes related to smoking and nearly six percent of the world’s health-care spending is tied to smoking. In 2012, this amounted to US$1.4 trillion in direct and indirect costs, with developing nations shouldering 40 percent of the burden.
Researchers at the World Health Organization (WHO), who analyzed data from 152 countries, representing 97 percent of the world's smokers, showed that smoking imposes a heavy economic burden throughout the world, especially in countries where the tobacco epidemic is most advanced.
The researchers considered direct costs, such as medical treatment, as well as indirect ones, such as lost productivity and disability, to estimate the overall cost of smoking. To make that estimate, the investigators reviewed 33 studies of direct costs along with data from the WHO and the World Bank.
Researchers also found that in 2012, smoking-related diseases caused 12 percent of deaths among adults aged 30 to 69 and 40 percent of the global economic toll could be traced to low- and middle-income countries. Of those, Brazil, China, India and Russia accounted for one-quarter of all smoking-related costs. The calculations did not include the health and economic harms caused by second-hand smoke or smokeless forms of tobacco, the investigators said.
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda includes 17 goals for member states to achieve by 2030. One of the targets of Goal 3 is to cut the number of deaths from non-communicable diseases, such as those caused by smoking, by one-third, the study authors explained.
"These findings highlight the urgent need for all countries to implement comprehensive tobacco-control measures to address these economic costs, while also helping to achieve the sustainable development goals of the member states," the authors concluded.