Smoking costs the North East £613.8million a year, according to new data from Action on Smoking Health.
The figures, published in time for World No Tobacco Day today, show the additional pressure that smoking is putting on hospitals and GP surgeries, with a £127.5million bill to the NHS from more than 1.2million GP consultations, over 256,000 hospital admissions and outpatient visits and 693,133 GP prescriptions every year
With many current and former smokers requiring care in later life as a result of smoking-related illnesses, smoking costs North East local authorities an additional £46.3million a year to fund social care, as well as individuals and families paying out £38.4million a year to fund their own social care.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, the UK’s first dedicated regional programme for tobacco control, said: “We already know that smoking deprives people of many years of good health and robs families of years they could spend with loved ones.
“But these figures show the damage it does to communities, costing every individual, every family, every GP surgery, every council, business and hospital. It is also a major driver of poverty.
“We have seen the highest falls in smoking in England here in the North East and our local authorities deserve huge credit for working together to tackle this.
“However, smoking remains our largest cause of preventable death – the aim has to be to continue efforts to make smoking history for more children growing up here in the region.”
The costs also include:
5,584 early deaths from smoking every year
A cost of £386.4million to the regional economy and businesses, including 6,211 years of lost economic activity from early deaths costing businesses around £148.4million; £73.2million due to absenteeism from smoking-related illnesses; £164.8million from smoking breaks
£15.1million as a result of smoking-related house fires
224 tonnes of cigarette waste annually, of which 94 tonnes is discarded as street litter which must be collected by local authorities
Smokers spend an average of £2,050 on cigarettes each year – around £757million in total.