New data has highlighted the cost of smoking in Surrey, both to people’s health and to their finances.
The data forms part of national research undertaken by charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). Their findings showed that the average smoker is spending just under £2,000 a year on tobacco, costing smokers in England a total of £12 billion annually, whilst 3,200 people in Surrey are economically inactive due to smoking.
The findings also demonstrated a link between smoking and disadvantage, with 31% of smoking households nationally living in poverty once spending on smoking is accounted for. In the South East, that figure is 25.8%.
Surrey County Council’s Public Health team are working hard to get people away from smoking, including a free stop smoking service which provides expert advice to help residents quit. The programme particularly helps to support people from priority groups (such as routine and manual workers, pregnant mothers, those with mental health or long-term medical conditions) to quit smoking.
So far in 2021/22, 68% of clients from these priority groups who had quit at 4 weeks managed to go on to achieve 12 weeks without smoking. More information about the service can be found here.
Sinead Mooney – Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “The health benefits of stopping smoking are well known, but the findings in this report highlight the financial impact the cost of smoking is having on some of our more vulnerable residents. The average cost of smoking at around £160 a month, is hitting hard, both financially and physically. A smoking habit which may have started in childhood and become a lifelong addiction is hard to kick. We offer free expert support to all residents who need help to stop smoking, through our ‘ONE YOU’ stop smoking programme. We want to help break the link between smoking and poverty, so no one is left behind.”
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Smoking is the single largest driver of health inequalities in England and it is shocking that it’s contributing to more than two million adults living in poverty, concentrated in the most disadvantaged regions in the country.
“Behind every statistic is a human being. A real person, threatened by the debilitating health effects of smoking, and significantly poorer because of an addiction that started in childhood.
“We look forward to the forthcoming Tobacco Control Plan to achieve the Government’s smokefree 2030 ambition, an ambition which is vital to delivering the Government’s manifesto commitments to increase healthy life expectancy, reduce inequalities and level up society.”
Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash.
For the full press release from ASH, please visit: A third of smoking households in England are living in poverty with rates highest in the North – Action on Smoking and Health (ash.org.uk)