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Economic burden from tobacco-induced heart diseases highest in Kerala amongst southern states

Thiruvananthapuram: Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) account for a staggering Rs 226 crore economic burden annually, the highest among four major tobacco-induced ailments in Kerala, contributing to 51 per cent of total direct medical costs.

Significantly, the total direct medical costs from tobacco-induced CVDs in Kerala are the highest among south Indian states, says a latest report.

The report is based on study called ‘Economic Burden of Tobacco Related Diseases in India’ developed by Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) with support from the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The study report 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 neighbouring Tamil Nadu is 46 per cent, while those in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are at 48 and 40 per cent, respectively.

Smoking tobacco contributes to the highest economic burden among Kerala males with direct costs of Rs 123.5 crores, and indirect costs of Rs 62.7 crores.

The report estimated the economic costs on persons in the 35–69 age group in 2011.

Direct medical costs include direct healthcare expenditure for inpatient hospitalisation or outpatient visits such as medicines, diagnostic tests, bed charges, and surgeon’s fees. Indirect costs accrue from expenses on transportation and lodging for caregivers and loss of household income due to inpatient hospitalisation, besides costs from premature deaths.

According to the 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 economic burden study has suggested a host of measures to deal with the tobacco menace. These include strengthening implementation of Indian tobacco control law, 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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