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The economy loses 3.3 billion euro per year due to smoking

19 April 2013 / 13:04:40  GRReporter
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If the price of a pack of cigarettes in Greece is increased by two euro, the revenue in the treasury will increase by 1.2 billion euro. 330,000 smokers will quit smoking and 125,000 young people will not try it. 192,000 death cases per year related to smoking will be prevented. These are the results of a survey carried out by an international scientific commission, which involves members of the Greek Cancer Organization, Harvard University, the Foundation for Biomedical Research of the Academy of Athens, the University of Piraeus and the National Academy of Public Health.

Greece occupies a leading position in Europe as regards the number of smokers per capita. According to data from 2010, 40% of Greeks are fond of tobacco. At the same time, the restrictions introduced by the ban on smoking in public places have not yielded significant results. The ban is not observed in a large number of establishments and public buildings. One can often see visitors and employees in various public organizations or establishments lighting a cigarette, inhaling their favourite poison with delight.

Research results show that the complaints of 9% of patients admitted to public hospitals are associated with smoking. This corresponds to about 200,000 people a year. The direct budget spending on the treatment of a disease caused by cigarettes amounts to 400-550 million euro per year.

One tenth of the total health spending in the country goes to treat diseases related to smoking. Too often, the amount that the state spends on the treatment of incurable diseases caused by cigarettes increases to 1.8 billion euro if all treatment costs (hospital services, personnel, medication therapy after discharging the patient from the hospital) are added to it. If these calculations include indirect costs such as lost productivity resulting from morbidity and mortality, the loss to the national economy reaches 3.3 billion euro or 1.5% of GDP, based on prices from 2011.

Smoking is the cause of lung cancer, asthma, an increased number of cases of pneumonia, otitis, sudden death syndrome or mental retardation in newborns. However, chain smokers do not take to heart these facts although they are fully aware of the risks of smoking.

The National Academy of Public Health states that a 10%-increase in the price of a pack of cigarettes will decrease the sales of cigarettes by 3.7%. On the other hand, research results show that a 10%-increase in personal incomes increases cigarette sales by 6.7%.

"On the basis of the data collected we have come to the conclusion that the intervention of the state and the representatives of the organization for the protection of public health is imperative," pneumology professor and Director of the National Steering Committee for Tobacco Control Panagiotis Behrakis comments on the analysis cited by To Vima. He argues that a targeted tax policy can turn smoking into a tool that will improve public health and provide a solution to the economic problems of the health insurance fund at the same time.

Tags: SocietySmokingGreeceLosses
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