January 16, 2023

Socioeconomic costs of tobacco use and caregivers burden: implications for comprehensive tobacco control

Tobacco use kills primary and secondary smokers. While 7 million primary smokers die annually from tobacco use, more than 1.2 million non-smokers also die annually from being exposed to second-hand smoke[1]. Tobacco contains many cancer-causing toxins that harm every organ of the body. Smoking tobacco introduces nicotine and other chemicals, including numerous carcinogens, into the lungs, blood and organs, which causes coronary and non-coronary heart diseases; cerebrovascular disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); pneumonia and cancers[2]

Most diseases caused by tobacco smoking cannot be managed by smokers alone. They require treatment by specialized healthcare providers such as a cardiologist, lung specialist, an oncologist and an informal caregiver. Social support from patients’ informal caregivers is indispensable during and after treatment.

The informal caregiver is defined as a care provider that bears the burden of assisting the patient with physical, psychological and emotional support from the time of diagnosis, during the treatment period, and after treatment[3]. While caregiving may impact positively on the patient, it could also impact negatively on the caregiver who endures the physical, psychological, and emotional costs of care. The caregiver burden may lead to anxiety, depression and impaired quality of life. Although evidence on the health and economic burden of primary smokers has been widely documented, only a few attempts have evaluated the ‘caregiver burden’. In the present study, we assessed the types of burden perceived by informal caregivers and the factors associated with the caregiving burden.

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