The huge costs of smoking


Six million people die prematurely each year due to smoking. And by 2030, cigarette deaths - the world's leading cause of deaths that could be avoided - are expected to rise to 8 million. These are some of the data of a new impressive report on smoking and its economy (over 600 pages) just published by the World Health Organization and the American National Cancer Institute.

Doing the accounts. The large study examines, summarizes and explores not only the well-known aspects of health damage, but also and above all economic costs. And from this point of view, the thesis that smoke, although highly harmful to health, is an important factor for the economies of different countries, through the proceeds obtained from the taxes on cigarettes and the work provided by the tobacco industry is demolished. . Quite the contrary, instead: while taxes on tobacco products are estimated to amount to around 270 billion dollars, the costs related to smoking and its side effects cost the world economies over a trillion dollars between the treatment of diseases related to smoking and loss of productivity for the same reason. No advantage, therefore, even cynically considering only the economic side.

No harm to poor economies. Smokers today are around one billion 100 million in the world: most of them live in developing countries. The tobacco industry argues that smoking control measures are against the poor. "The overwhelming evidence is the exact opposite, " said Jeremiah Paul, of the World Health Organization, among the authors of the report. Due to technological innovations, among other things, the number of workers dependent on tobacco is decreasing in most countries. The report estimates that in almost all countries, national tobacco control policies would have no effect on employment or would have a net positive one, because losses related to the tobacco industry would be offset by an increase in employment in others sectors.

Among the causes of many cancers. One in five of the cancer deaths can be attributed directly to smoking: in addition to lung cancer, for which tobacco is the main causative factor, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified 15 types and subtypes of cancers for which the smoking is a known risk factor.

Passive smoking remains a big problem: in most countries, even without smoking directly, 15 to 50 percent of the population is exposed to passive smoking (and deaths due to this cause are estimated to be 600 thousand a year).

With us, in young people. In Italy, according to the latest report on smoking from the Higher Institute of Health, smokers are 11.5 million - more than 20 percent of the population - about 27 percent men, 17 women. The majority begins to smoke before the age of twenty, and according to statistics the number of student tobacco users is rising sharply.