'Tax hike on tobacco products will bring down patients of cancer, heart diseases'

May 25, 2019

Kathmandu (Nepal) May 25: Risk of heart attack is four times higher in a smoker than in a non-smoker; the cause of 80 per cent deaths by asthma is smoking; and smoking is behind 90 per cent deaths caused by lung cancer in the country, revealed Bhagwan Koirala, senior cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon.
To bring down the number of cancer and cardiovascular patients, Koirala said the government should take necessary steps to raise tax on tobacco and tobacco products.
Koirala was making public major findings of a study titled, 'Cost Analysis of Cardiovascular and Cancer Disease', at a programme conducted jointly by Nepal Health Research Council and Action Nepal today. Tobacco consumption will decrease when the price is high, he said.
The findings of the research reveal that a patient spends an average of Rs 790,955 per year for diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. On an average, a cancer patient annually spends Rs 981,370 for the treatment of cancer. These costs include patients' medical cost, non-medical cost and wage loss.
Though the country is earning annual revenue of Rs 14.1 billion from tobacco products, there has been an expenditure of Rs 35.79 billion on cancer and cardiovascular diseases. To bridge the gap between revenue and expenditure, and lessen the treatment cost of patients, the stakeholders have demanded that tax on tobacco and tobacco products be increased.
"The tax rate should be increased up to 75 per cent. When the prices of tobacco and tobacco products are high, there is lower intake of the products," said Devi Prasad Prasai, a researcher. "Double the tax on tobacco and provide more subsidies to poor patients for treatment of cardiovascular diseases and cancer," he said.
Ramesh Chokhani, a senior chest physician said, "Consumption of tobacco and tobacco products is one of the major causes for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A patient suffering from the disease will have difficulty in breathing. There is no treatment for this disease. We just try to ease their suffering. Such patients require oxygen therapy throughout their life. Severity of the disease can deteriorate the condition of the patient requiring them to be kept on ventilator."
"Patients of tuberculosis are at high risk of suffering from lung diseases. It hinders the development of a baby when a pregnant woman smokes. There are also high risks for the baby to suffer from various infections. The baby is likely to develop asthma as s/he grows up," warned Chokhani.
The research was done to assess the socio-demographic characteristics of cardiovascular diseases and cancer patients; determine medical costs of diagnosis and treatment of tobacco related cardiovascular diseases and cancer, and to determine non-medical costs of diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
It also aimed to determine productivity losses of patients and their care givers because of illness.
Source: The Himalayan Times