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Economic costs attributable to smoking in China: update and an 8-year comparison, 2000–2008
  1. Lian Yang1,2,
  2. Hai-Yen Sung3,
  3. Zhengzhong Mao1,
  4. Teh-wei Hu4,
  5. Keqin Rao5
  1. 1Department of Health Economics, Huaxi School of Public Health, University of Sichuan, Chengdu, China
  2. 2Department of Health Economics, School of Public Health and Administration, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, China
  3. 3Institute for Health & Ageing, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  4. 4School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA
  5. 5Centre of Health Statistics and Information, Ministry of Health, Beijing, China
  1. Correspondence to Keqin Rao, Centre of Health Statistics and Information, Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China, 1 Xi Zhi Men Wai Nan Road, Beijing 100044, China; raokq{at}


Objective To estimate the health-related economic costs attributable to smoking in China for persons aged 35 and older in 2003 and in 2008 and to compare these costs with the respective results from 2000.

Methods A prevalence-based, disease-specific approach was used to estimate smoking-attributable direct and indirect economic costs. The primary data source was the 2003 and 2008 China National Health Services Survey, which contains individual participant's smoking status, healthcare use and expenditures.

Results The total economic cost of smoking in China amounted to $17.1 billion in 2003 and $28.9 billion in 2008 (both measured in 2008 constant US$). Direct smoking-attributable healthcare costs in 2003 and 2008 were $4.2 billion and $6.2 billion, respectively. Indirect economic costs in 2003 and 2008 were $12.9 billion and $22.7 billion, respectively. Compared to 2000, the direct costs of smoking rose by 72% in 2003 and 154% in 2008, while the indirect costs of smoking rose by 170% in 2003 and 376% in 2008.

Conclusions The economic burden of cigarette smoking has increased substantially in China during the past decade and is expected to continue to increase as the national economy and the price of healthcare services grow. Stronger intervention measures against smoking should be taken without delay to reduce the health and financial losses caused by smoking.

  • Costs
  • smoking
  • China
  • economics

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  • Funding N01-TW05938. Other funders: National Institutes of Health; China Medical Board News.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.