Regional disparity in smoking household rates

New analysis of national data commissioned by charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has found that the proportion of smokers living in poverty is highest in the north and Midlands.

The data shows that In England as a whole, 31 per cent of households containing smokers live in poverty once spend on smoking is taken into account. Rates are highest in the North East where 42 per cent of households containing smokers live in poverty, while London is lowest at 17 per cent, but this still equates to over 80,000 households in the capital.

The link between smoking and disadvantage is well established, but this new analysis highlights how the impact of smoking on local communities is compounded in regions where household incomes are also lower. The average gross disposable household income per head in the North East is only £17,096, while in London it is £30,256.

The average smoker is spending just under £2,000 a year on tobacco costing England smokers a total of £12 billion.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Smoking is the single largest driver of health inequalities in England and it is shocking that it’s contributing to more than two million adults living in poverty, concentrated in the most disadvantaged regions in the country. Behind every statistic is a human being. A real person, threatened by the debilitating health effects of smoking, and significantly poorer because of an addiction that started in childhood.

“We look forward to the forthcoming Tobacco Control Plan to achieve the government’s smokefree 2030 ambition. This will play a key role in delivering the 2030 targets to narrow the gap in life expectancy, well-being and productivity between the top performing and other areas set out in the Levelling Up White Paper.”

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