The health, economic and social burden of smoking in Argentina, and the impact of increasing tobacco taxes in a context of illicit trade

Health Econ. 2023 Nov;32(11):2655-2672. doi: 10.1002/hec.4741. Epub 2023 Jul 31.


Tobacco tax increases, the most cost-effective measure in reducing consumption, remain underutilized in low and middle-income countries. This study estimates the health and economic burden of smoking in Argentina and forecasts the benefits of tobacco tax hikes, accounting for the potential effects of illicit trade. Using a probabilistic Markov microsimulation model, this study quantifies smoking-related deaths, health events, and societal costs. The model also estimates the health and economic benefits of different increases in the price of cigarettes through taxes. Annually, smoking causes 45,000 deaths and 221,000 health events in Argentina, costing USD 2782 million in direct medical expenses, USD 1470 million in labor productivity loss costs, and USD 1069 million in informal care costs-totaling 1.2% of the national gross domestic product. Even in a scenario that considers illicit trade of tobacco products, a 50% cigarette price increase through taxes could yield USD 8292 million in total economic benefits accumulated over a decade. Consequently, raising tobacco taxes could significantly reduce the health and economic burdens of smoking in Argentina while increasing fiscal revenue.

Keywords: economic burden; economic model; informal care costs; labor productivity loss; tobacco tax.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Argentina / epidemiology
  • Commerce
  • Humans
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Taxes
  • Tobacco Products*