Thiruvananthapuram | Cardiovascular diseases account for a staggering Rs 226-crore economic burden annually in Kerala, the highest among the four major tobacco- induced ailments in the state, contributing to 51 per cent of the total direct medical costs, according to a study. Smoking tobacco contributes to the highest economic burden among Kerala males with direct costs of Rs 123.5 crore and indirect costs of Rs 62.7 crore, it said.
It estimated the economic costs on persons in the 3569 age group in 2011. Significantly, the total direct medical costs from tobacco-induced cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in Kerala are the highest among the south Indian states. The study by Public Health Foundation of India was based on a recent report ‘Economic Burden of Tobacco Related Diseases in India,’ developed by it with support from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the World Health Organisation.
It covers both direct medical costs and indirect morbidity costs of four specific diseases CVDs, cancer, tuberculosis, and respiratory disease. The direct medical costs from tobacco-related heart diseases in Tamil Nadu is 46 per cent, while those in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are at 48 and 40 per cent respectively.
Direct medical costs include direct healthcare expenses for in-patient hospitalisation or outpatient visits like medicines, diagnostic tests, bed charges and surgeon’s fees. Indirect costs accrue from expenses on transportation and lodging for care-givers and loss of household income due to in-patient hospitalisation, besides costs from premature deaths. According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2009-10, the global standard to systematically monitor adult tobacco use, 35.5 per cent of males use tobacco in some form, 27.9 per cent males smoke and 13.1 per cent use smokeless tobacco products.
The study has suggested a host of steps to deal with the tobacco menace. These include strengthening implementation of Indian tobacco control law, Control of Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003 and imposing uniform taxes on all tobacco products like cigarettes and bidis. It has also recommended prohibition of sale and manufacture of all forms of smokeless tobacco products/chewing tobacco and high visibility public awareness campaigns to consistently reach out to different target audiences.
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