The £18m go­ing up in smoke

Accrington Observer - - YOUR VIEWS -

RALPH BLACK­BURN AND JON MACPHER­SON

SMOK­ING costs Hyn­d­burn more than £18 mil­lion a year through NHS costs, sick days and even smok­ing breaks, new fig­ures re­veal.

Around 12,000 adult smok­ers live in the bor­ough (22 per cent) which is higher than the Eng­land av­er­age of 16pc.

Fig­ures pro­duced by char­ity Ac­tion on Smok­ing and Health (Ash) es­ti­mates that smok­ing costs Hyn­d­burn’s econ­omy £11 mil­lion a year due to lost work­ing days.

Smok­ing-re­lated hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions and ill-health treat­ment costs the NHS a fur­ther £4 mil­lion while the im­pact on so­cial care for pub­lic and pri­vate providers is £3 mil­lion.

Hyn­d­burn coun­cil­lor Mun­sif Dad, port­fo­lio holder for health and com- mu­ni­ties, said he is ‘very sur­prised’ by the fig­ures and that more work is needed to tackle smok­ing in the bor­ough.

He said: “The risks were raised a num­ber of years ago and that’s had some im­pact but there’s still a long way to go.

“The cost of cig­a­rettes is get­ting higher but peo­ple still smoke. It’s very dif­fi­cult for peo­ple who have been smok­ing for a num­ber of years to quit but there is sup­port there for those who have the will power. It costs the lo­cal econ­omy mil­lions and mil­lions of pounds. It’s a lot of money for an econ­omy which is strug­gling at the mo­ment.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Health and Care Ex­cel­lence, smok­ers suf­fer on av­er­age 2.74 ad­di­tional sick days a year com­pared with non-smoker.

Deb­o­rah Arnott, Ash chief ex­ec­u­tive, said the ‘sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial im­pact’ shows that lo­cal au­thor­i­ties need to in­vest in mea­sures to dis­cour­age young peo­ple from tak­ing up smok­ing and mo­ti­vate adult smok­ers to quit.

How­ever she warned that cuts to pub­lic health bud­gets mean that many lo­cal au­thor­i­ties ‘no longer have the re­sources they need’ and is cre­at­ing a ‘false econ­omy that is dam­ag­ing our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties’.

Around half of the money spent on cig­a­rettes goes to the Gov­ern­ment from to­bacco tax. The British Heart Foun­da­tion said a levy on to­bacco com­pa­nies would ‘en­sure there is sus­tained fund­ing for to­bacco con­trol’.

A De­part­ment of Health and So­cial Care spokesman said they have al­ready taken ‘bold ac­tion’ in­clud­ing in­tro­duc­ing stan­dard­ised pack­ag­ing, cov­er­ing up to­bacco prod­ucts in shops and mak­ing it il­le­gal to smoke in a car with a child.

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