Impact of increasing tobacco taxes on working-age adults: short-term health gain, health equity and cost savings.
Cleghorn CL., Blakely T., Kvizhinadze G., van der Deen FS., Nghiem N., Cobiac LJ., Wilson N.
OBJECTIVE: The health gains and cost savings from tobacco tax increase peak many decades into the future. Policy-makers may take a shorter-term perspective and be particularly interested in the health of working-age adults (given their role in economic productivity). Therefore, we estimated the impact of tobacco taxes in this population within a 10-year horizon. METHODS: As per previous modelling work, we used a multistate life table model with 16 tobacco-related diseases in parallel, parameterised with rich national data by sex, age and ethnicity. The intervention modelled was 10% annual increases in tobacco tax from 2011 to 2020 in the New Zealand population (n=4.4 million in 2011). The perspective was that of the health system, and the discount rate used was 3%. RESULTS: For this 10-year time horizon, the total health gain from the tobacco tax in discounted quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) in the 20-65 year age group (age at QALY accrual) was 180 QALYs or 1.6% of the lifetime QALYs gained in this age group (11 300 QALYs). Nevertheless, for this short time horizon: (1) cost savings in this group amounted to NZ$10.6 million (equivalent to US$7.1 million; 95% uncertainty interval: NZ$6.0 million to NZ$17.7 million); and (2) around two-thirds of the QALY gains for all ages occurred in the 20-65 year age group. Focusing on just the preretirement and postretirement ages, the QALY gains in each of the 60-64 and 65-69 year olds were 11.5% and 10.6%, respectively, of the 268 total QALYs gained for all age groups in 2011-2020. CONCLUSIONS: The majority of the health benefit over a 10-year horizon from increasing tobacco taxes is accrued in the working-age population (20-65 years). There remains a need for more work on the associated productivity benefits of such health gains.