The Shocking Cost of Lighting Up


Anti-smoking campaigners calculate the shocking cost to society of lighting up

According to an analysis by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), smoking costs society £17 billion a year - nearly £5 billion more than previously estimated. ASH calculated the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, social care and fire damage due to smoking.

The huge rise comes from a reassessment of the impact of smoking on productivity. ASH said: “Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to become ill while of working age, increasing the likelihood of being out of work and reducing the average wages of smokers. Smokers are also more likely to die while they are still of working age, creating a further loss to the economy.”

According to ASH, productivity costs to the economy from smoking have hit £13.2 billion. That includes £6 billion of smoking-related lost earnings, £5.7 billion from smoking-related unemployment and £1.44 billion from smoking-related early deaths.

The charity claimed healthcare costs amount to another £2.4 billion, while “social care”, which “includes the cost of care provided in the home and, for the first time, residential care costs”, accounts for £1.19bn. It said “fire costs” made up nearly £283m, with “smoking-related fires are the leading cause of fire-related deaths, and the costs of property damage, injuries and deaths”. ASH said 6.1m people smoke in England, spending a combined £11.95bn a year - or just under £2,000 each.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, said: “Smoking is a drain on society. It’s a cost to individuals in terms of their health and wealth and a cost to us all because it undermines the productivity of our economy and places additional burdens on our NHS and care services. The Government have delayed the tobacco control plan it promised last year which is now urgently needed with only eight years left to achieve the goal of England being smokefree by 2030.”

Source: Mirror, 14 January 2022

See also: ASH Press Release:  Smoking costs society £17bn – £5bn more than previously estimated