News

Smoking costs Australia close to $137 billion


Morgan Liotta


23/10/2019 3:51:27 PM

That is up from $31.5 billion in 2004–05.

Graphic depicting lung cancer.
Intangible costs of smoking – including lost quality of life from living with a serious illness – are estimated to be almost $118 billion per year.

The report, from the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) at Curtin University, provides the first update on smoking costs in Australia in 15 years, while detailing that tangible and intangible costs associated with smoking now sit at $136.9 billion annually, up from an estimated $31.5 billion in 2004–05.
 
Current tangible costs of smoking include:

  • $5 billion in lost productivity and worker absences
  • $2 billion for family members caring for someone with a smoking-related disease
  • $6.8 billion in healthcare costs, including the cost of 1.7 million hospital admissions to treat smoking-related conditions.
 Intangible costs, on the other hand, include years of life lost from premature deaths or lost quality of life from living with a serious illness, and were estimated at almost $118 billion per year.
 
Despite smoking rates decreasing over the past 15 years, the estimated costs of smoking have increased due to long-term health effects, population growth and further research conducted, the report found.
 
Professor Steve Allsop from the NDRI warned that while rates have declined substantially, the research reinforces the need for continued investment in public health strategies to prevent smoking and support smoking cessation.
 
‘Tobacco continues to cause a significant toll in premature death, suffering, reduced quality of life and real financial costs in Australia,’ Professor Allsop said.
 
‘More than two-thirds of deaths among smokers are due to their tobacco use, and the health impacts and costs of smoking continue to be high.
 
‘Effective strategies to reduce smoking still have the potential to substantially reduce medical costs, improve the quality of life of smokers and their families and reduce costs to the whole community.’
 
The report also found that tobacco use is linked to around 20,000 preventable deaths each year and at least 46 medical conditions requiring treatment and care. Ninety per cent of people who start smoking regret it, or want to quit.
 
‘It is imperative that we continue to reduce the prevalence of smoking and to limit the exposure of non-smokers to its toxic effects,’ Professor Allsop said.
 
The Federal Government today announced at the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference an additional $5 million to its National Tobacco Campaign. Adult smoking rates in Australia reduced by 3.7% within the first five years of the inception of the public health campaign in 1997. 
 
However, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable burden, and an estimated 12% of Australians aged 14 and over smoked daily in 2016.
 
The RACGP’s Supporting smoking cessation: A guide for health professionals details the role of health professionals in smoking cessation. An update of the current guidelines is due for release in early 2020.
 
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