Smoking costs local UK authorities around £76o million per year in social care, according to a new report.
The report, from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health, urges the UK Government to renew its efforts in reducing smoking rates whilst imposing legislation to make tobacco companies pay towards health campaigns.
The number has increased from the £600 million it was costing local authorities in 2012.
The report also warns of the situation worsening thanks to the Governmental cutting the local authority public health grant, leading to NHS commissioners refusing to pay for smoking cessation GP prescriptions.
“Evidence presented to the APPG on Smoking and Health shows that smoking is contributing to the current social care crisis,” said Bob Blackman MP, Chair of the APPG on Smoking and Health. “The situation will worsen if funding to local stop smoking services continues to be cut.”
Smoking rates are now at an all-time low (18%), however the habit is thought to cost England around £14.2 billion per year, including NHS, social care and lost productivity costs.
It also leads to around 80,000 premature deaths in England per year.
In response to the report, Alison Cox, director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK, called the Government cuts ‘short-sighted’ and called for the immediate publishing of the new Tobacco Control Strategy for England: “Cutting the Public Health Grant is short-sighted if the Government is genuinely committed to reducing health inequalities, for which smoking is the leading cause.
“[The new strategy] will help to reduce the enormous pressures tobacco places on local authorities and enable them to deliver effective tobacco control measures.”
The report outlines other solutions to the problem, outside of the publishing of the Tobacco Control Strategy for England. These include the Government providing sustained funding for national mass media campaigns, protecting local authority public health service funding, and reconsidering its decision not to impose a levy on tobacco manufacturers to fund smoking cessation efforts.
“The four major tobacco manufacturers remain among the most profitable companies on Earth, so they could certainly afford to do this,” states Blackman in the report’s foreword.