BEAMSVILLE, Ontario, June 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Nicotine vaping has been widely accepted as significantly less harmful than smoking. Studies find that smokers who switch to vaping experience short term general health improvements. Therefore, public health has a vested interest in promoting vaping as a harm reduction option for quitting smoking.
An estimated 45,000 deaths are attributable to smoking each year. These deaths represent about 18% of all deaths in Canada. Over 100 Canadians die each day from smoking, which is more than the sum of deaths due to car accidents, accidental injury, self-harm and assault. According to Health Canada, “Smoking-attributable mortality resulted in nearly 600,000 potential years of life lost in 2012, primarily due to malignant neoplasms, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory diseases.”
Although smoking may be less visible and appear to have been mostly eradicated, this is not the case. Canada still has an estimated 4.5 million smokers and smoking remains the leading cause of premature death and illness. Tobacco control must remain a priority. For these reasons public health gains should be the primary objective for aggressive tobacco control, but there are also financial incentives to eradicating smoking. In addition to the obvious direct health care costs, smoking has many lesser-known indirect costs to society.
“The total costs of tobacco use were $16.2 billion, with indirect costs accounting for over half of total costs (58.5 per cent) and direct costs accounting for the remainder (41.5 per cent). Health care costs were the largest component of direct costs attributable to smoking, coming in at roughly $6.5 billion in 2012. This included the costs associated with prescription drugs ($1.7 billion), physician care ($1.0 billion), and hospital care ($3.8 billion). The federal, provincial, and territorial governments also spent $122.0 million on tobacco control and law enforcement.
“The indirect costs related to smoking, which reflect production losses (i.e., foregone earnings) as a result of smoking-attributable morbidity and premature mortality were also estimated. These production losses amounted to $9.5 billion overall, of which almost $2.5 billion were due to premature mortality and $7.0 billion were due to short- and long-term disability,” Health Canada.
As vaping adoption increases, direct and indirect costs decrease over time. A study has found that a fairly permissive regulatory environment achieves net health gain and cost savings. And, in a letter sent to the British Medical Journal, public health leaders wrote, “The Government rightly wants to make smoking obsolete. If this were achieved, it is estimated that UK jobs would increase by 500,000 as smokers spent their money on other goods and services. The net benefit to public finances would be around £600 million for England alone.”
“Over time, the loss of tobacco tax revenue is recouped by the savings in health care and the various indirect costs. When determining the excise tax rate on vape products legislators should consider the health benefits of transitioning smokers, as well as the corresponding savings in health care. Canada has already passed vaping regulation to achieve its youth prevention goals. Instead of using damaging heavy-handed taxation, the government should ensure that current regulations are enforced,” said Darryl Tempest, Government Relations Counsel to the CVA Board.
Government Relations Counsel to the CVA Board