Smokers £91m care bill

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SMOKING is costing Wigan millions of pounds a year according to figures released by anti-smoking campaigners.

New figures from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) show that councils -including Wigan – in the North West are paying more than £91m a year to help people with smoking-related illness to live in their own homes whilst accessing domiciliary care.

Individuals across the region also face a bill of over £67 million to cover the cost of their own care. This means that more than £158 million is spent unnecessarily on social care every year in the North West as a result of smoking say ASH.

The study reveals that current smokers over 50 are twice as likely to need help with day-to-day living and on average need care nine years earlier than non-smokers.

The study shows that every year 5,600 more people in the region need local authority social care as a result of smoking. ASH say this means that around 126,000 people are receiving unpaid care from friends or family.

Andrea Crossfield, chief executive of Tobacco Free Futures said: “Continued investment in supporting adults to quit and preventing young people from starting to smoke is important to alleviate local authority budget pressures and bring money back into communities.

“Measures to reduce the number of children and adults smoking in communities, such as standardised tobacco packaging can also have a significant part to play in reducing local authority costs both now and in the future.

“Local authorities can invest now in both comprehensive tobacco control and stop smoking support to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities and secure savings in council budgets which currently amount to more than £91m a year across the North West.”

The Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust run the Wigan Stop Smoking service.

According to Bridgewater experts a heavy smoker could save more than £5,000 a year while even somebody who smokes five a day could save up to £700 at current cigarette retail prices.

For support get in touch with Wigan’s Stop Smoking Service on 01942 481712 or by visiting www.bridgewater.nhs.uk/stopsmoking/