Cost of smoking in England reaches £21.8 billion

Cost of smoking in England reaches £21.8 billion

The cost of smoking to England’s economy has shot up by 25%, according to new figures published by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

MPs recently voted in favour of legislation that will effectively ban smoking for those born after 2008. As the Tobacco and Vapes Bill Committee begins to scrutinise the bill, ASH has released data from Landmark Economics that estimates the cost of smoking to the economy. The figures suggest that the cost has risen from £17 billion to 21.8 billion, an increase of one quarter on previous figures. This includes:

  • £1.9 billion to the NHS
  • £1.2 billion in social care costs to local authorities
  • £18.3 billion in lost productivity.

Deborah Arnott is chief executive of ASH. She said:Health experts gave testimony to parliament last week about the misery caused by smoking to smokers and their families, and the massive burden it puts on the NHS.

‘However, smokers lose many years of healthy life expectancy while they are still of working age, often dying long before they were due to retire. As the new figures published by ASH today demonstrate, this seriously damages the nation’s productivity, putting an even greater burden on the economy than it does on our health and care systems.’

Impact of smoking on local communities

ASH also investigated the cost of smoking to local communities. This revealed additional costs such:

  • £13.8 billion in informal and unmet care needs for those unable to secure local authority care
  • £10.4 billion lost because the sale of tobacco generates far fewer jobs than other goods or services as tobacco is not grown and cigarettes are not manufactured in the UK.

Including these figures, the total cost of smoking in England is £46 billion. ASH added that if risk factors worsened by smoking (such as obesity) were included in the estimate, it would be as high as £78 billion.

Howard Reed of Landman Economics said: ‘There are many years of good quality data about the harms of smoking, and the prevalence of smoking in society, which underpin the Cost Benefit and Public Finance model we have developed for ASH. This has enabled us to provide a detailed analysis of the costs of smoking not just to the NHS and social care, but also to the economy as a whole. 

‘With every new area we look at we find additional burdens caused by smoking, on public services, the welfare system and the productivity of the nation. By ending smoking the smoke-free generation policy will lift a millstone off our economy. A millstone that is completely avoidable and totally unnecessary.’

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