Council bid to cut city's £94m smoking health bill

Councillors will be asked to back a new campaign to tackle smoking due to rising pressures on social care and health services in Sunderland.

Monday, 21st May 2018, 3:54 pm
Updated Monday, 21st May 2018, 3:56 pm

Although the number of people smoking has dropped from 24.6 per cent in 2010 to 18 per cent in 2016 – it is higher than the national average of 15.5 per cent.

This week, Sunderland City Council’s (SCC) Health and Wellbeing Board will discuss the “priority” area of tobacco.

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A report by SCC’s director of public health states the estimated cost to Sunderland every year is £94.6million.

This includes £27m for lost output due to premature death, £43.8m for loss of productivity, £15.1m for the NHS and  wider costs from passive smoking, smoking related fires and littering.

The social care system is hit equally hard, the report adds, with thousands more people receiving care from SCC, private providers or relatives/ friends as a result of smoking.

The estimated cost – based on the size of Sunderland’s over 50s population – is over £7m, the report states.

In 2016/17, 487 women in Sunderland were also recorded as smoking at the time they gave birth equating to 17.2 per cent – almost double the national average of 10.7 per cent.

Looking forward, SCC is looking to achieve a target of five per cent ‘smoking prevalence’ by 2025 – a scheme informed by the Government’s new Tobacco Control Plan for England.

To achieve this, the council will back several schemes ranging from enforcement to education/awareness. 

Proposed changes include signing up to the NHS Smokefree Pledge – a scheme supporting staff in the healthcare system to quit smoking .

Other changes include tackling counterfeit tobacco and increasing the number of mental health trust referrals to public health-commissioned stop smoking services.

Councillors from the committee will discuss the issue on Frida at Sunderland Civic Centre, noon.

For more information, visit www.sunderland.gov.uk.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service