SMOKERS cost the NHS in Sunderland £13million this year.
The figure was revealed as health bosses urge the city’s thousands of smokers to quit and make a fresh start next year.
One in five people in Sunderland over the age of 35 is thought to die due to smoking-related illnesses, which equates to 486 deaths per year.
The number of people from the same age group in routine and manual jobs who smoke is just under 31 per cent, which is higher than the average of about 22 per cent for the UK.
Jo Dickinson, programme manager at Sunderland’s NHS stop-smoking service, said the figures were worrying.
She said: “It is a problem because it means those people who are from disadvantaged groups are more likely to smoke and are more likely to suffer ill health, and the fact that hundreds of people are dying due to smoking is worrying because it is a lot.”
Jo said the stop-smoking service had encouraged people to try to stop smoking over the Christmas period as it is a prime time for people to fall back into the habit.
“People are more likely to smoke during holiday periods such as Christmas,” she said.
“We would say people are four times more likely to quit if they use NHS services. The people who run them are highly-trained professionals.”
This year, 3,200 people in Sunderland set a date to quit smoking, and 1,465 did stop after four weeks, which Jo said is a good success rate.
She added: “Remember, there is no such thing as one cigarette. It could undo all your hard work.”
For advice on stopping smoking, call 0800 531 6317 or text 80800.
Tips to help you succeed
•Stick with a non-smoking friend on nights out. They are more likely to encourage you not to smoke.
•Remember why you quit in the first place. That might be reasons such as finances, or spending more time with children or grandchildren.
•Remember that the single best thing you can do for your health is stopping smoking.
•Alcohol is a disihibitor, so try not to drink large amounts of alcohol. Have a sip of water, or a soft drink in between alcohol.
•Log on to www.stopsmokingnhs.co.uk for advice on quitting and nicotine-replacement therapies.