Economic Burden of Smoking

Economic Burden of Smoking

In regards to the burden smoking has on our society, it is important to consider the economic strain it causes on national economy. This includes examining costs incurred by the national health system to treat diseases caused by smoking but also in terms of economic and social costs, such as productivity losses (due to illness causing absenteeism from work) or economic loss due to premature mortality (loss of ‘human capital’).1

According to World Bank, the cost of smoking-related health care is between 0.1 -1.1% of the country’s GDP. In 2016, Greece’s GDP was 288 418 million $US. It is therefore estimated that ~288 -3,172 million US dollars are spent every year on healthcare costs of diseases related to smoking in Greece. The reduction of number of smokers in Greece will lead to a direct reduction in health care costs.

Smoking in Greece in 2011 was accountable for 199,028 hospital admissions, representing 8.9% of the total number of hospital admissions in the country.2 The total cost of smoking-attributable hospital treatment was €400,011,801, representing 7.7% of the total hospital budget in Greece. This however, is a conservative estimate as it did not include several costs such as ambulatory care, pharmacotherapy, primary clinic costs and out-of-pocket payments.2 In 2009 alone, ~12 million euros were lost due to absenteeism and ~10.7 million euros from premature mortality due to smoking in Greece.1

Furthermore, as Greece remains in an economic crisis leading to budget cuts that are straining the National Healthcare system, a higher focus should be put on preventing smoking-related diseases which are the leading causes of death in the country; that being cardiovascular disease, while also for example, lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths among men in Greece.

Europe has the highest economic burden from smoking in the world, with 2.5% of the annual GDP being spent on treating smoking-related diseases. 3 In addition, according to the European Respiratory Society, almost half of the burden of respiratory diseases in Europe are attributable to smoking.4 Approximately 1.5% of the smoking-related deaths in the EU are estimated to be non-smokers who have been exposed to second-hand smoke. Globally, 1.4 million of the smoking-attributable deaths were adults in the workforce.3


  1. DG SANCO. A Study on Liability and the Health Costs of Smoking: Updated Final Report.; 2012.
  2. Tsalapati K, Vardavas CI, Athanasakis K, et al. Going up in ashes? Smoking-attributable morbidity, hospital admissions and expenditure in Greece.
    Eur J Public Health. 2014;24(3):477-479. doi:10.1093/eurpub/cku040.
  3. Goodchild M, Nargis N, Tursan d’Espaignet E. Global economic cost of smoking-attributable diseases.
    Tob Control. 2018;27(1):58-64. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053305.
  4. European Respiratory Society. European Lung white book: The burden of lung disease – ERS.

The SMOKEFREEGREECE initiative, established in 2009 for tobacco prevention with an emphasis in the school community, does not in any capacity, hold any obligation or relation to any funders, institutions, persons, or initiatives with similar names and/or scope. Does not have any financial, ideological, social relationship or collaboration with any industry related to the manufacturing, production, distribution or promotion of tobacco and/or other novel tobacco products.

The SMOKEFREEGREECE initiative is fully funded by the Behrakis Foundation Boston MA and is supported by the NGO Hellenic Cancer Society and the Educational Institution, The American College of Greece.

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