Globally, tobacco consumption continues to cause a huge burden of preventable diseases. Chile has been leading the tobacco burden ranking in the Latin American region for the last ten years; it has currently a 33. 3% prevalence of current smokers.
A microsimulation economic model was developed within the framework of a multi-country project in order to estimate the burden attributable to smoking in terms of morbidity, mortality, disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), and direct costs of care. We also modelled the impact of increasing cigarettes’ taxes on this burden.
In Chile, 16,472 deaths were attributable to smoking in 2017, which represent around 16% of all deaths. This burden corresponds to 416,445 DALYs per year. The country’s health system spends 1.15 trillion pesos annually (in Dec 2017 CLP, approx. U$D 1.8 billion) in health care treatment of illnesses caused by smoking. If the price of tobacco cigarettes was to be raised by 50%, around 13,665 deaths and 360,476 DALYs from smoking-attributable diseases would be averted in 10 years, with subsequent savings on health care costs, and increased tax revenue collection. In Chile, the tobacco tax collection does not fully cover the direct healthcare costs attributed to smoking.
Despite a reduction observed on smoking prevalence between 2010 (40.6%) and 2017 (33.3%), this study shows that the burden of disease, and the economic toll due to smoking, remain high. As we demonstrate, a rise in the price of cigarettes could lead to a significant reduction of this burden, averting deaths and disability, and reducing healthcare spending.