Smoking costs Sunderland more than £71million a year, campaigners claim

Smoking coste the borough �34m a year. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images
Smoking coste the borough �34m a year. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images
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The cost of people smoking in Sunderland is nearly £70million a year, through NHS costs, sick days and even smoking breaks, according to new analysis.

Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), a leading anti-smoking charity, has calculated how much tobacco costs society.

It has compared a variety of publicly available data, such as smoking prevalence, mortality and hospital admissions.

The latest complete figures show 18% of people smoked in Sunderland in 2016, higher than the England average of 16%.

Ash’s study estimates smoking costs Sunderland’s economy £46million a year, due to lost working days.

The charity has calculated how much income has been lost by people who die before retirement age, where smoking is a factor.

The analysis also accounts for time lost due to smoking breaks, and smoking-related sick days.

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), smokers suffer on average 2.74 additional sick days a year compared with non-smokers.

The research also found smoking costs the NHS in Sunderland £13million a year, based on smoking-related hospital admissions and the cost of patients.

Deborah Arnott, Ash chief executive, said: “Cuts to public health budgets mean that many local authorities no longer have the resources they need to invest in driving down smoking rates, this is a false economy that is damaging our local communities.”

Ash also judged the impact on social care in Sunderland, with a cost of £9.4million a year for public and private providers.

However, charities such as Ash and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) are calling on the Government to force tobacco companies to pay an additional levy which would go directly towards stop smoking services.