Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

October 4th, 2011:

Current Smoking Rates Could Lead to Millions of TB Deaths

Oct. 4, 2011– If smoking is not controlled worldwide, the habit could produce 18 million newtuberculosis (TB) cases and 40 million deaths from TB between 2010 and 2050, according to a new study.

Tobacco and tuberculosis are linked, with tobacco smoking a risk factor for the disease.

The research is published online in the journal BMJ.

Researcher Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD, and his team created a mathematical model of TB epidemics. They wanted to compute the impact of tobacco on TB cases and deaths.

They plugged in the incidence of TB and deaths from it. They took into account changing trends in smoking, TB treatment, and other factors.

The completed model predicted that smoking, if not controlled, could produce the 18 million new TB cases and 40 million TB deaths. The number of TB cases would rise by 7%, from 256 million to 274 million. The number of TB deaths would increase by 66%, from 61 million to 101 million.

13 Best Quit-Smoking Tips Ever

Global Smoking Rates

Nearly one-fifth of the world’s population smokes, the researchers say. A moderate increase in individual risk, in this case, translates to a large risk in the population because so many people smoke.

The areas most likely to be affected by new TB cases linked to smoking include Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia.

The researchers also estimated the effect of decreasing the use of tobacco. If smoking rates were aggressively lowered, the TB deaths linked to smoking could decrease by 27 million by 2050. Aggressive lowering was defined as a decrease of 1% per year, until smoking is eliminated.

Way to snuff out habit

FOR centuries, tobacco has been considered an ideal consumer good for taxation.

The World Bank report 1999 showed how increased taxation affected the demand for cigarettes and other tobacco products.

It was found that demand for tobacco, while inelastic, was still strongly affected by its price.

On average, a price rise of 10% a pack of cigarettes would be expected to reduce demand for cigarettes by about 4% in high-income countries and by about 8% in low and middle income countries (Jha & Chaloupka, 1999).

In a local study done in 2004, the estimated cigarette price elasticity in Malaysia was 0.38. This means that every 10% increase in cigarette prices will result in a 3.8% decline in cigarette consumption (Nabilla, Ross & Zarihah, 2006).

This is a close estimate to the average price elasticity for developed countries which is 0.4.

The same study also showed the income elasticity of cigarette demand in Malaysia was estimated to be +10. This means that every 10% increase in income will lead to 10% increase in cigarette demand.

Another local study by Aljunid et al., (2006) found that the cost of treating lung cancer, ischemic heart disease (IHD) and chronic obstructive airway diseases (COAD) wasRM116mil, RM630mil and RM2.3bil, respectively.

It is estimated that in 2010, the cost of treating these three smoking-attributable causes of death increased to about RM4.1bil or 0.84% of the country’s GDP.

This translates to nearly 70% of the cost of treating these diseases being borne by the Government using mainly tax-payers money!

It can then be expected that the tobacco epidemic in Malaysia will spread with income growth if no stringent tobacco control measures are taken.

Increasing tax and price of tobacco products has been identified as an effective strategy to reduce tobacco demand and consumption, as outlined by Article 6 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), of which Malaysia is a signed member.

The World Bank Report recommended that in order for tobacco tax increase to be effective, the tax component of the price of a pack of cigarettes be between 2/3 and 4/5 (67 to 80%) of the retail cost.

Currently, tax makes up about 54% of the retail price of cigarettes sold in Malaysia. Thus, there is still much room to increase it to ensure that cigarettes become unaffordable, especially to the youth.

Therefore, if the Government is serious about tackling the tobacco epidemic, the next tax increase must be significant enough to be effective, not just a few sen per stick as previously seen.

Counter arguments from pro-tobacco sectors that the increase in cigarette price will lead to increased smuggling needs to be substantiated with solid evidence, not just based on reports from sources with vested interest.

After all, protecting the health and lives of the rakyat from tobacco epidemic should be the main priority of our policy makers.


Hon. Secretary,

Initiative of Malaysian Health Professionals’ Alliance on Cessation of Tobacco (IMPACT)

Cigarette plain-packaging plan is spreading to other tobacco products


The proposed design for plain packaging of cigarettes released by Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon. Source:Supplied

CIGARS, cigarillos and loose and chewing tobacco are the next targets of the Federal Government’s plain-packaging campaign.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon yesterday released a consultation paper explaining how plain-packaging rules for tobacco products other than cigarettes would work.

Legislation requiring plain, olive green tobacco packaging is before Parliament.

This new consultation will help the Government develop regulations on how that legislation, once law, would apply to products other than cigarettes.

The consultation paper proposes that the packaging in which tobacco products are sold would be in the same colour, with no company branding or logos.

They would still have dominant and graphic health warnings.

Submissions on the proposals are open until October 28.

Net link: