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Devastating Impact of Tobacco on Iran’s Health Ministry

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The significant financial burden of tobacco use falls primarily on the Ministry of Health, which must cover the substantial costs of treating tobacco-related illnesses. The increasing trend of cigarette and hookah consumption in society is alarming and poses a serious threat to public health. This issue is evident without delving into scientific research or studies, as the growing visibility of smokers and hookah users in public places and cafes highlights a concerning rise in tobacco use.

One major concern is the shift in demographic patterns of tobacco use. Historically, smoking was predominantly associated with older men, but recent trends indicate a growing prevalence among younger populations and women. This shift is particularly worrying as it suggests that tobacco companies’ marketing strategies targeting these groups are effective. These strategies often involve promoting flavored tobacco products and using social media influencers to make smoking appear trendy and socially acceptable.

Moreover, the health implications extend beyond the individual smoker. Secondhand smoke exposure remains a critical issue, affecting non-smokers who are involuntarily exposed to the harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke. This exposure can lead to various health problems, including respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung cancer, exacerbating the public health crisis.

The economic impact of tobacco use is also multifaceted. Direct healthcare costs for treating tobacco-related diseases are only part of the burden. Indirect costs, such as lost productivity due to illness and premature death, also strain the economy. The ripple effects of tobacco-related health issues can lead to increased absenteeism in the workplace, higher insurance premiums, and greater demand for social services. These factors collectively underscore the urgent need for comprehensive tobacco control measures to mitigate both health and economic repercussions.

Increasing Tobacco Consumption Statistics

According to the Ministry of Health, tobacco use among individuals aged 18 and over increased by about 14% from 2016 to 2021. During this period, men’s consumption rose by 3%, while women’s consumption surged by approximately 11%. Hookah use alone saw a 54% increase compared to 2016. Among young adults aged 18 to 24, tobacco use increased by 90% among women and 34% among men. Daily cigarette smoking in women increased by 190% and by 46% in men during this period. For the 25 to 34 age group, tobacco use increased by 19.6% in men and 90.88% in women. These statistics highlight the troubling rise in tobacco use, especially among women, which poses a significant threat to family health.

Behzad Vali Zadeh, head of the National Tobacco Control Secretariat, explained that the tobacco industry employs various tactics to attract more people to tobacco use. These include introducing new tobacco products like electronic cigarettes, vaping systems, and heated tobacco products as supposedly safer alternatives. Young people are often misled by these claims and quickly develop nicotine dependence, becoming regular tobacco users. The industry also uses diverse flavors and extensive advertising in films to lure youth. These strategies trap young consumers, many of whom ultimately face severe health consequences or death.

tobacco

Financial and Health Damages of Tobacco

The increasing number of tobacco users directly correlates with rising healthcare costs for treating tobacco-related diseases. Each unit of currency spent on tobacco leads to significantly higher expenditures in the healthcare system for treating these diseases. Jafar Jandghi, head of the Environmental Health and Occupational Health Center at the Ministry of Health, estimated that the annual cost of tobacco use exceeds 500 trillion rials. This includes 136 trillion rials for direct health expenses, 226 trillion rials for premature deaths (with over 50% of tobacco-related deaths occurring before age 70), and 139 trillion rials due to reduced productivity from work absences.

Tobacco Advertising in Media

Jandaghi pointed out that television series and movies often serve as indirect advertisements for tobacco use. He emphasized the need for regulatory bodies to address this issue. Reviewing the financial impact of tobacco use on the country’s healthcare system reveals the potential alternative investments. The funds spent on treating tobacco-related illnesses could be used to build sports complexes, cultural centers, cinemas, and libraries, providing recreational facilities for the youth and contributing to societal well-being.

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Resource: Mehr News, May 29, 2024

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