Chapter 4

Burden of Death, Disease and Disability

When used as intended by the manufacturer, tobacco is the only legal product that kills up to two thirds of its regular users, currently killing more than 7 million people globally each year, including about 890,000 non-smokers, who lose their lives due to exposure to secondhand smoke. As such, tobacco use continues to be the world’s single largest preventable cause of diseases, harming almost every organ of the body.

Map: Annual deaths attributed to tobacco-related diseases in ASEAN

Given the current trends of the tobacco epidemic being exported from high-income countries to low-and middle-income countries, it is estimated that tobacco use will kill more than 8 million people annually by 2030, with 80% of these premature deaths in low-and middle-income countries. In the ASEAN region, tobacco already causes more than half a million deaths every year.

Tobacco also imposes a heavy economic burden on society and government through increased health care costs and human productivity losses. The economic and societal costs of tobacco-related diseases are staggering and cost an estimated USD 1.4 trillion annual expenditure in tobacco-related healthcare costs and in lost productivity due to illnesses and early deaths.

Most ASEAN governments already spend significant amounts of their budgets for tobacco-related health care costs that are many times higher than revenue gained from tobacco.

Quick Fact

Tobacco kills more people, but tobacco control is severely underfunded

Tobacco will kill
1 Billion people in the 21st century

Tobacco use killed about 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century, and remains a serious and growing concern that will claim 1 billion or more lives in the 21st century unless urgent action is taken.

Global death toll from tobacco use

  • 14% of all deaths from NCDs including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and lung disease.
  • 12% of all adult deaths worldwide.
  • About 5% of all deaths from communicable diseases, including 7% of tuberculosis deaths and 12% of deaths due to lower respiratory infections.

Quick Fact

Projected global tobacco-caused deaths, by cause, 2015

Direct and indirect tobacco-related health care costs in ASEAN

*Direct and indirect medical care cost for overall tobacco-related diseases in Thailand.

Global economic cost and health burden of tobacco use

*Total economic cost of smoking (from health expenditures and productivity losses together).