Smoking contributes £760m to social care bill

Research published by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has revealed that smoking is adding £760 million to the social care crisis with £1.4 billion a year being spent on social care as a result of smoking related illness.

The new figures are included in an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health Report, which follows an Inquiry convened by Bob Blackman MP, chair of the APPG and former leader of Harrow Council. The paper calls on the government to publish the new tobacco control plan for England without delay and to ensure smoking rates continue to fall.

Local authority funding cuts are worsening the finances to stop smoking services and tobacco control work, with a lack of commitment from the NHS adding to the problem.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, commented: “Smoking places an enormous pressure on our over stretched health and social care system, not to mention the many thousands of carers who spend their lives looking after loved ones.

“We know that most local authorities remain committed to reducing smoking but key services are under threat from public health funding cuts. In some areas this is being made worse by a lack of engagement from NHS partners. Local and national action is urgently needed to ensure the continuity of support to help smokers quit.”

Blackman said: “Evidence presented to the APPG on Smoking and Health shows that smoking is contributing to the current social care crisis. 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 new Tobacco Control Plan for England, published without further delay, will be crucial to ensuring that government, the NHS and local Councils work together effectively to continue to tackle the harm caused by smoking.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association's Community Wellbeing Board, added: "Smoking still remains our number one killer and councils with their responsibility for public health remain committed to eliminating it altogether. The cost on social care of smoking is often overlooked, and only drives home the need to ensure that social care services are properly funded.

"Social care faces a funding gap of least £2.6 billion by 2020, and government needs to urgently inject genuinely new money into the support councils provide for our elderly and vulnerable residents. The cuts by government to councils' public health grants of nearly 10 per cent – approximately £530 million over five years – also threaten to undermine the good work councils are doing around smoking cessation."