Burden of smoking in Brazil and potential benefit of increasing taxes on cigarettes for the economy and for reducing morbidity and mortality

The prevalence of smoking in Brazil has decreased considerably in recent decades, but the country still has a high burden of disease associated with this risk factor. The study aimed to estimate the burden of mortality, morbidity, and costs for society associated with smoking in 2015 and the potential impact on health outcomes and the economy based on price increases for cigarettes through taxes. Two models were developed: the first is a mathematical model based on a probabilistic microsimulation of thousands of individuals using hypothetical cohorts that considered the natural history, costs, and quality of life of these individuals. The second is a tax model applied to estimate the economic benefit and health outcomes in different price increase scenarios in 10 years. Smoking was responsible for 156,337 deaths, 4.2 million years of potential life lost, 229,071 acute myocardial infarctions, 59,509 strokes, and 77,500 cancer diagnoses. The total cost was BRL 56.9 billion (USD 14.7 billion), with 70% corresponding to the direct cost associated with healthcare and the rest to indirect cost due to lost productivity from premature death and disability. A 50% increase in cigarette prices would avoid 136,482 deaths, 507,451 cases of cardiovascular diseases, 64,382 cases of cancer, and 100,365 cases of stroke. The estimated economic benefit would be BRL 97.9 billion (USD 25.5 billion). In conclusion, the burden of disease and economic losses associated with smoking is high in Brazil, and tax increases are capable of averting deaths, illness, and costs to society.