Nearly 6 percent of the world’s health-care spending is tied to smoking, a new study reports.
That amounted to $1.4 trillion worldwide in 2012, with developing nations shouldering 40 percent of the burden, the researchers said.
“Smoking imposes a heavy economic burden throughout the world, particularly in Europe and North America where the tobacco epidemic is most advanced,” the study authors wrote.
Mark Goodchild, of the World Health Organization (WHO), led the analysis of data from 152 countries, representing 97 percent of the world’s smokers.
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.
Goodchild and his colleagues reported that in 2012, smoking-related diseases caused 12 percent of deaths among adults aged 30 to 69, with the highest proportion in Europe and the Americas. That included 1.4 million people who would have been working.
The researchers traced nearly 40 percent of the global economic toll 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 U.N. 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.
The study was published Jan. 30 in the journal Tobacco Control.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on smoking and tobacco use.