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Benefits of tobacco control for lower-income Cambodians

Nov 26, 2020

This Issue Brief examines the burden of tobacco use in Cambodia. It analyzes the extent to which investing in key WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) measures can generate health, economic and other development returns, accelerating Cambodia’s achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It presents key findings; linkage between tobacco use and poverty; and how the lower-income populations benefit the most from tobacco control.

Key Findings:

  • Tobacco control is pro-poor, bringing disproportionate benefits to the poor.
  • Tobacco cost KHR 2.7 trillion (US$ 663 million) every year, which is equivalent to 3 percent of Cambodia’s GDP.
  • In 2017, tobacco use caused 15,000 deaths in Cambodia, 33 percent of which occurred in the bottom 20 percent income group.
  • Investing in five tobacco control measures will save 57,000 lives and avert KHR 7.9 trillion (US$ 1.9 billion) in health costs and economic losses by 2033.
  • For every Cambodian riel invested in five tobacco control measures now, Cambodia receives KHR 178 in averted costs and economic losses by 2033. In other words, tobacco control measures are highly cost-effective and wise investment for Cambodia.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Scale up tobacco taxes over time to at least 75 percent of the retail price (currently 25-31 percent), with periodical increases to outpace inflation and income growth.
  • Consider allocating part of tobacco tax revenues to tobacco control and pro-poor measures, such as universal health coverage, supporting tobacco farmers and workers to switch to alternative livelihoods, and other social protection schemes.
  • Raise awareness among the public and policymakers of the true costs of tobacco and the enormous health and development benefits of tobacco control, particularly among lower-income people.
  • Ensure all relevant sectors are engaged in comprehensive, effective, and sustainable tobacco control efforts, while protecting policymaking from tobacco industry interference.