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Smoking leaves global economy gasping

Smoking not only sucks the life out of millions of people worldwide, it’s also sucking the life out of the global economy.

Authors of the latest edition of the “Tobacco Atlas” report that smoking costs the world 1 to 2 % of its gross domestic product each year and is likely to kill a billion people this century.

This is ten times more than the number of people who were killed by tobacco in the 20th century.

The economic losses of smoking include the cost of smoking related health care and the value of lost productivity.

There are now about a billion tobacco users around the world with 600,000 non-smokers dying each year from exposure to second hand smoke, 75 % of them women and children.

China still leads the world in cigarette consumption and saw costs due to smoking more than quadruple to $28.9 billion between 2000 and 2008.

In New Zealand the annual cost of smoking related health care is put at $250 million a year with 5000 people a year dying prematurely from tobacco use.

More by Rod Vaughan

Comments and questions

You know that tobacco excise revenues are like a billion dollars, right? So a quarter million (or $350 million - another creditable figure I've seen) in costs to MoH is pretty trivial.

Smoking kills people in very prolonged and very unpleasant ways. The costs in terms of impact on families is huge and not factored in to $ costs.

whats the real cost in human terms to families, lives and missed opportunities. When a childs parent dies young thier lives are affected, job prospects and all. Forget the $250m health cost remind yourself of the people who are no longer with us

The heart and lungs take up physical space, therefore have material value. Of course tobacco is a drain on the economy because it undermines human physiological systems that were factors of production in their own righ even before the industrial revolution. So to give absolute emphasis to material factors (such as $250-350m) is a fundamentalist view of the concept of 'economy' that doesn't cut the mustard. Each exposure to tobacco smoke (direct or indirect) is a seemingly insignificant debit on health (which emphasises the concept of wholeness or 'value') that eventually manifests as some form of diagnosis that undermines 'quality' of life (another expression of 'value').