Published: 00:01, 17 September 2018
Smoking costs Gravesham and Dartford £47 million a year, through NHS costs, sick days and even smoking breaks, according to new analysis.
Action on Smoking and Health, a leading anti-smoking charity, has calculated how much tobacco costs society. It has compared a variety of publicly available data, such as smoking prevalence, mortality and hospital admissions.
The latest complete figures show 12% of people smoked in Gravesham and 14% in Dartford in 2016, less than the England average of 16%.
Ash’s study estimates smoking costs both economies £34 million a year, due to lost working days.
The charity has calculated how much income has been lost by people who die before retirement age, where smoking is a factor.
The analysis also accounts for time lost due to smoking breaks, and smoking-related sick days.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), smokers suffer on average 2.74 additional sick days a year compared with non-smokers.
The research also found smoking costs the NHS in the boroughs £9 million a year, based on smoking-related hospital admissions and the cost of patients.
Deborah Arnott, Ash chief executive, said: “Our tool shows just how significant the financial impact of smoking is at local level and makes the case for local authorities to invest in measures to discourage young people from taking up smoking and motivate adult smokers to quit.
“However, cuts to public health budgets mean that many local authorities no longer have the resources they need to invest in driving down smoking rates, this is a false economy that is damaging our local communities.”
Ash also judged the impact on social care to be £3.8 million a year for public and private providers.
Roughly half of the money spent on cigarettes goes to the government from tobacco tax.
However charities such as Ash and the British Heart Foundation are calling on the government to force tobacco companies to pay an additional levy which would go directly towards stop smoking services.