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2 February 2012, 07:32
New figures from FRESH North East show the true cost of smoking to the region in lives lost, illness and the toll of finances - costing the region over £210million pounds every year.
Despite the North East having the largest drop in smoking in England over the past few years, smoking-related diseases still cost the NHS in the North East around £105million every year, with more than:
• £53 million spent on over 27,000 smoking-related hospital admissions each year
• Over £17.9million in outpatient appointments annually
• Over £19.5million spent on GP consultations annually
• Over £12.6million in prescription costs annually
• Nearly £1.9million in nurse consultations annually.
Working days lost
Smoking is estimated to cost employers in the North East around £70 million a year , with 335,000 days lost each year to increased absenteeism due to smoking. Absenteeism alone is estimated to cost employers around £34.5 million per year, with the remaining losses due to smoking breaks.
The effects of passive smoking cost the North East around £35.9million each year, with by far the biggest burden falling on children exposed to the dangers of second hand smoke.
But it is not all bad news. During 2010 -11 NHS Stop Smoking Services helped over 58,000 smokers to quit and the numbers of quitters for the population size was the highest in the country - for a record ten consecutive years running.
The figures also project the future value to the region of FRESH, the first regional tobacco control programme in England which was set up in 2005 to tackle the worst rates of smoking in the country. Over the next two years, the presence of a regional tobacco programme in the North East is predicted to save £9.2m in costs of smoking and passive smoking to Primary Care Trusts, hospitals and workplaces, as well as encouraging almost 19,000 additional smokers to quit smoking in the future.
Nearly one in five of all deaths among adults over 35 are as a result of smoking , causing around 4,211 deaths in the North East each year according to latest NHS estimates.
Smoking causes almost 90 per cent of deaths from lung cancer, around 80 per cent of deaths from COPD and around 17 per cent of deaths from heart disease.
That breaks down every year in the North East to:
• 538 deaths from COPD
• 593 deaths from heart disease
• 848 deaths from lung cancer
• 183 deaths from stroke
• 2056 deaths from other diseases such respiratory disease and cancers of the oesophagus, kidney, throat, bladder and stomach.
The stats come from FRESH in partnership with Brunel University, combined with existing figures from the North East Public Health Observatory
Disease from smoking
If smoking levels remain unchanged, the North East will experience an ongoing burden to the NHS from new cases of smoking related disease being diagnosed each year.
Disease Cases each year over next decade in the North East if smoking rates remain the same
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said:
“These are very stark figures that really help to demonstrate the scale of the problem that smoking causes.
“The North East has had the highest drop in smoking nationwide, but we still need to do more when smoking causes such incredible damage to families and communities and costs every individual, every family, every GP surgery, every council, business and hospital.
“For every penny spent, there is a human being who has lost a loved one, watched a loved one suffer from a smoking related illness or wished their mum, dad, son or daughter would quit before it is too late.
“Detailed studies show that the cost of smoking completely outweighs what it generates in VAT. The tragedy is that most smokers start as children and most go on to regret every having started.”