Smoking is costing local authorities and individuals an enormous £1.4bn in social care costs to cover the growing needs of people with smoking-related illnesses, a parliamentary report has found.
The research, conducted by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and published following an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health, reveals that local authorities are now paying £760m on domiciliary care for people with smoking-related illness, up from £600m in 2012, while individuals are facing their own £630m top-up costs.
The report warns that the problem is only going to get worse as a growing number of NHS CCGs cut their funding for GP prescriptions to stop smoking services.
“Evidence presented to the APPG on Smoking and Health shows that smoking is contributing to the current social care crisis,” said Bob Blackman MP, chair of the APPG. “The situation will worsen if funding to local stop smoking services continues to be cut.
“Smoking is the leading cause of health inequalities in the UK so this puts at serious risk progress towards the prime minister’s ambition to reduce the burning injustice caused by inequality.
The APPG has urged the government to publish its new Tobacco Control Plan which is already a year overdue, calling upon the government, NHS and councils to work together to tackle the harm caused by smoking and continue the habit’s long-term decline.
In addition to the reversal of the cuts to stop smoking services, the report also recommends that all NHS hospitals become fully smoke-free, and asks the government to reconsider a controversial levy on tobacco manufacturers similar to the precedent set by its new sugar tax.
Full story in National Health Executive, 30 January 2017