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ASH Highlights the New Cost of Smoking

Latest figures from the charity Action on Smoking and Health show that the cost of smoking in England is up 25% to at least a whopping £21.8 billion

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Latest figures from the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) show that the cost of smoking in England is up 25% to at least a whopping £21.8 billion. The headline figure was announced last Thursday when ASH published its new Ready Reckoner tool. The charity says that this year the tool is much easier to access than in previous years due to new functionality.

ASH says its Ready Reckoner is “an easy-to-use cost calculator, allowing you to see the costs of smoking to society. The tangible wider societal costs of smoking in England are £46.3 Bn and these are broken down into individual local authorities, combined authorities, regions, and Integrated Care Boards (ICBs). Estimates are also available for parliamentary constituencies and wards.”

The latest figures show cost of smoking in England includes:

  • £1.9 Bn to the NHS
  • £1.2 Bn social care costs to local authorities
  • £18.3 Bn lost productivity

ASH says that most of the cost is due to the damage smoking does to the productivity of the nation, “which more recent data show has significantly increased over time, rather than the well-known impact smoking has on the NHS and social care systems”. 

The productivity losses are calculated using the UK Household Longitudinal Study, allowing the analysis to be controlled for age group, gender, age of youngest child in the household, highest qualification, ethnicity, disability, housing tenure and region.

Public Health Minister, Andrea Leadsom said: "Smoking is the number one preventable cause of disability, ill health, and death in this country. As well as its devastating effects on our health, this important research reveals how smoking also costs our society more than £21 billion each year.

"That's why we're introducing world-leading legislation to create the first smokefree generation - saving lives, easing the strain on the NHS, and helping people to save money."

Deborah Arnott, chief executive, ASH, said: “Health experts gave testimony to parliament last week about the misery caused by smoking to smokers and their families, and the massive burden it puts on the NHS. However, smokers lose many years of healthy life expectancy while they are still of working age, often dying long before they were due to retire. As the new figures published by ASH today demonstrate, this seriously damages the nation’s productivity, putting an even greater burden on the economy than it does on our health and care systems."

David Buck, Senior Fellow, Public Health and Inequalities at The King's Fund: “In the 1990s I undertook some of the early research showing that the sale of tobacco was a burden on British business and not the boon to the economy the tobacco industry claimed at the time. Thankfully rates of smoking have tumbled since then but smoking still places a major burden across society. The smokefree generation ban is necessary to ensure that we do not pass on this inheritance into the future.”

Chris Thomas, Head of IPPR’s Commission on Health and Prosperity: “IPPR’s modelling has conclusively shown the dire impact poor health has on prosperity. The onset of sickness costs individuals their livelihoods, and the UK’s status as literal sick man of Europe is harming growth and public finances. That’s why the smokefree generation is not just economic good sense, but economic necessity.”


Photo Credit:

  • Fivers Photo by Anthony on Unsplash, Fag Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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