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Smokers costing Cumbria's economy £137m a year, says NHS

The staggering cost of smoking to Cumbria’s economy has been revealed as £137 million-a-year.

Smoking photo
A smoker lights up

Figures released to the News & Star show the bulk of that tab is being picked up by businesses losing out because of the fallout from their employees’ habit.

Councils also have to pick up a multi-million pound bill for clearing the mess that smokers leave behind.

NHS Cumbria says the cost to the county from smoking is £19m more than the amount smokers hand over in tax.

And it is a bill that public health partnership specialist Sue Sear says the county cannot afford to pick up, particularly against the tough financial backdrop of the double-dip recession.

She said: “The cost of smoking is too high a price for Cumbria to pay. Not only does smoking claim the lives of 900 people each year, it also has a negative impact on our economy.”

Figures released by NHS Cumbria were compiled by anti-smoking group ASH.

They break down the £137m into five separate areas.

The majority of the figure - £95m - is being met by employers. This includes lost productivity from smoking breaks, the cost of sick leave among smokers and reduced economic output due to early deaths. Research also reveals that treating diseases caused by smoking is costing the NHS in Cumbria £27m a year.

A further £7m relates to lost output due to deaths caused by passive smoking, while £3m is spent on cleaning up smoking-related litter.

Finally, the cost of fires caused by smoking now stands at about £5m a year. In contrast, the total amount of tobacco tax the Government receives from Cumbrian smokers is less – £118m.

Mrs Sear said: “Taking all the costs of smoking into account, the tax paid on tobacco products falls nearly £19m short of the cost to the county’s economy.”

The public health expert is one of Cumbria’s strongest advocates in the anti-smoking lobby. She hopes the statistics will encourage more people in Cumbria to kick the habit.

Her calls coincide with the Stoptober campaign – a national mass-quit attempt currently underway in Cumbria. They also come as councils in the county toughen their stance on cleaning up after smokers.

In Carlisle, the city council has launched a clean-up campaign, an element of which involves stopping people stubbing out on pavements.

Elsie Martlew, the councillor responsible for the environment, said: “I just don’t understand why people start smoking. It’s worrying because we are seeing lots of youngsters and a lot of young girls, smoking. I don’t know how we get the message across that smoking kills.”

She added that the council is now targeting people who drop cigarette butts with £80 on-the-spot fines.

Anyone who wants help giving up smoking can contact the county’s free Stop Smoking Service on 01900 324222 or visit their GP or local pharmacy.

Have your say

@ Shock and Awe,I do not partake in alcohol so please desist from slandering me in such a way.
On your second point, I have had to watch my own family torn apart by drug abuse which started off as 'having a sneaky fag behind the sheds with mates' then progressed to cannabis and heroin.
Think before you attack others for having an opinion other than your own.

Posted by Craig on 16 October 2012 at 12:33

The emperors new clothes blames smoking ban on landlords loosing money...ha. It's the silly prices they charge for a pint of shandy,,,, never mind a Guinness. That's what drives folk away. The only people who can afford a pint now are on benefits with 6 kids and no rent , poll tax or mortgage to pay.

Posted by Mr fox on 14 October 2012 at 18:36

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