Smok­ing re­spon­si­ble for 20,000 deaths na­tion­ally each year: HPA statis­tics

The China Post - - LOCAL -

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.

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