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Big tobacco addicted consumers: How much money does a cigarette cost?

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By Meghna

11913113_983523475001827_945731158_nThat cigarette you are holding in your hand, have you ever wondered how much is it worth? You’re probably going to say Rs. 12 or Rs. 13, but, it is going to cost you a lot more. You might want to rethink about smoking that cigarette.

In 2012, one cigarette cost Rs. 7 to the consumer and the cost of manufacturing that very cigarette was as low as 59 paise! This amounts to roughly 8.42 % of the price paid by the consumer.

Presently, while the consumer pays approximately Rs. 12-13 for one cigarette stick, the cost of manufacturing would lie approximately between Re. 1 to Rs. 3. Even after you add taxes and other logistical charges, the profit margin remains huge.

The cigarette market of India is mostly dominated by the corporate giant ITC. It is one of the most profitable industries and rakes in huge profits each year owing to the huge margins with the tax-evaded money so diligently paid by the smokers.

Cigarettes can quite literally burn a hole in one’s pocket. 

In addition to tobacco being an excessively addictive substance, the brands too have enticed the unassuming consumer and have lured them into smoking.

There was a time when the image of Marlboro man was so deeply engrained in the minds of the general public that reportedly ‘Life’ magazine ran a full double page advertisement with an image of the Marlboro man without any caption and yet the people could recognize the advertisement and the image.

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It is also a fact that four of the models who were part of the ‘Marlboro Man’ ad campaign died of smoking-induced diseases. Even that couldn’t hurt the brand value.

Cigarettes are omnipresent. Be it in the hands of handsome cowboy models or your favorite cartoon characters and at a subconscious level, these advertisements can be potent enough to make you think about it or create a positive notion about smoking.

In India, there is a ban on advertising of cigarettes and the advertising can only be done at the points of purchase, i.e by the shops selling cigarettes.

Tobacco – A lucrative industry

India is home to 25 million cigarette smokers, 100 million beedi smokers and 120 million users of smokeless tobacco. Such huge numbers of tobacco users make India the second largest tobacco consumer in the world, though India accounts for only 8% of the total tobacco produced world over.

Chewing tobacco and beedis are highly addictive and contain high amounts of carcinogens (cancer causing substances). High percentages of consumers make this industry highly lucrative. To meet the high demands and to ensure an adequate supply, the industry hires a large work force also.

Tobacco industry directly or indirectly involves 7 million workers and has a direct impact on Indian economy. In addition to this, it earns US $900 million of foreign exchange. Thus, any ban or restriction imposed on this industry will not only affect the workforce, but will also have a grave impact on the annual revenue generated by the country.

Tobacco Industry and Cancer health Industry- diametrically opposite ends of a vicious circle

It is a known fact that tobacco consumption causes cancer. This information is not just available on the tobacco products but is also conveyed through commercials, ads and what not.

Despite this, the tobacco consumption hasn’t decreased.

According to a report published in the National Journal of Medical Research, between the years 2002-03, India spent approximately Rs 300 billion (US$ 6.2 billion) on the treatment of tobacco-related illnesses.

Another report states that in the year 2011, the public spent Rs. 16,800 crores on treatment of tobacco-related illnesses. This was 1.6 per cent of the 2011’s GDP and is 12 per cent more than the combined expenditure on health made by states and Central government in the same year.


source: tradingeconomics.com

The tobacco industry is huge all across the world. In fact, the annual revenue generated by it is more than the per capita income of most of the African countries. The total revenue of China National Tobacco (CNT) – the world’s richest tobacco products company, was more than US $91 billion.

On the other hand, GDP of Namibia for the year 2014 was only $13.3 billion which is roughly 1/7th of CNT’s total revenue.

Smoking is a serious problem which needs to be tackled. In a time where tobacco companies earn more than nations, tackling the issue becomes exceedingly difficult. The fact remains that the number of people affected by smoking/tobacco consumption related diseases won’t come down as long as these products are readily available and easily accessible by the people.

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It is a vicious circle as cancer health industry is fuelled by the tobacco industry. A smoker first spends a considerable amount on tobacco products and then he/she spends a fortune on treatment of tobacco-related disease.

So each time you light a cigarette, you burn away not just a chunk of your money, but also your life.

 

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Immunotherapy Drugs Show Significant Improvement Against Breast Cancer: Study

Side effects need a close look, both doctors said. Nearly all study participants had typical chemo side effects such as nausea or low blood cell counts.

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Breast Cancer
This undated fluorescence-colored microscope image made available by the National Institutes of Health in September 2016 shows a culture of human breast cancer cells. For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. VOA

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown promise against breast cancer in a large study that combined it with chemotherapy to treat an aggressive form of the disease. But the benefit for most women was small, raising questions about whether the treatment is worth its high cost and side effects.

Results were discussed Saturday at a cancer conference in Munich and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Drugs called checkpoint inhibitors have transformed treatment of many types of cancer by removing a chemical brake that keeps the immune system from killing tumor cells. Their discovery recently earned scientists a Nobel Prize. Until now, though, they haven’t proved valuable against breast cancer.

Breast Cancer
Weight loss may lower breast cancer risk for post-menopausal women. Pixabay

In the study

The new study tested one from Roche called Tecentriq plus chemo versus chemo alone in 902 women with advanced triple-negative breast cancer. About 15 percent of cases are this type, their growth is not fueled by the hormones estrogen or progesterone, or the gene that Herceptin targets, making them hard to treat.

Women in the study who received Tecentriq plus chemo went two months longer on average without their cancer worsening compared with those on chemo alone, a modest benefit. The combo did not significantly improve survival in an early look before long-term follow-up is complete.

Failed protein test

Previous studies found that immunotherapies work best in patients with high levels of a protein that the drugs target, and the plan for the breast cancer study called for analyzing how women fared according to that factor if Tecentriq improved survival overall.

breast cancer
FILE – A patient receives chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer at the Antoine-Lacassagne Cancer Center in Nice, July 26, 2012. VOA

The drug failed that test, but researchers still looked at protein-level results and saw encouraging signs. Women with high levels who received the combo treatment lived roughly 25 months on average versus about 15 months for women given chemo alone.

That’s a big difference, but it will take more time to see if there’s a reliable way to predict benefit, said Dr. Jennifer Litton of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She had no role in running the study but enrolled some patients in it and oversees 14 others testing immunotherapies.

“We’re really hopeful that we can identify a group of women who can get a much bigger and longer response,” she said.

Another breast cancer specialist with no role in the study, Dr. Michael Hassett at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said he felt “cautious excitement” that immunotherapy may prove helpful for certain breast cancer patients.

Breast Cancer
Breast cancer cell, Wikimedia Commons

Side effects and cost

Side effects need a close look, both doctors said. Nearly all study participants had typical chemo side effects such as nausea or low blood cell counts, but serious ones were more common with the combo treatment and twice as many women on it stopped treatment for that reason.

Three of the six deaths from side effects in the combo group were blamed on the treatment itself; only one of three such deaths in the chemo group was.

Also Read: New DNA Tool To Predict People’s Height And Risk For Cancer

Cost is another concern. Tecentriq is $12,500 a month. The chemo in this study was Celgene’s Abraxane, which costs about $3,000 per dose plus doctor fees for the IV treatments. Older chemo drugs cost less but require patients to use a steroid to prevent allergic reactions that might interfere with the immunotherapy. Abraxane was chosen because it avoids the need for a steroid, said one study leader, Dr. Sylvia Adams of NYU Langone Health.

The study was sponsored by Roche and many study leaders consult or work for the company or own stock in it. (VOA)