Smoking responsible for 20,000 deaths nationally each year: HPA statistics
Smoking causes about 20,000 deaths in Taiwan each year, with the annual smoking-attributable economic costs estimated to account for 1.06 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, Health Promotion Administration (HPA) Director Chiou Shu-ti ( ) said Sunday. The total social cost that can be attributed to smoking reaches NT$144.1 billion (US$4.67 billion) each year, while annual smoking-attributable health care costs covered by the national health insurance program exceeds NT$50 billion, according to Health Promotion Administration statistics.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) May 31 every year, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating ef- fective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
For World No Tobacco Day 2015, the WHO has called on countries to work together to end illicit trade in tobacco products, while highlighting how the illicit trade is a means of amassing great wealth for criminal groups to finance other organized crime activities, including drugs, human and arms trafficking, as well as terrorism, Chiou said at an event marking WNTD.
However, the tobacco black market accounts for a mere 10 percent of the cigarette consumption market, with the vast majority of sales coming from perfectly legal sources.
Smoking poses the biggest public health and economic concern in Taiwan, killing 20,000 people each year in the country, or one person every 25 minutes, according to Chiou.
The HPA set up a toll-free quit smoking assistance hotline — 0800- 636363 — the first of its kind in Asia, in 2003, which offers various quitting services to about 120,000 people and has helped 50,000 successfully quit smoking, Chiou said, adding that the rate of quitting through willpower is below 5 percent, although the success rate can double with the help of professional quitting services.
In March 2012, the HPA promoted a second-generation quit smoking payment scheme for people attempting to quit, even in the most remote areas.
This helped increase the success rate of quitting to about 27.1 percent in a six-month period, while the success rate by using the services through the free hotline has reached 39.5 percent, according to Chiou.