SHOCKING figures have claimed that nearly 7,000 people in Wigan are living in poverty because of smoking.
Public health charity Action on Smoking and Health has published a Local Poverty Calculator which estimates that 3,925 households in the borough would be lifted out of poverty if they became smoke-free.
The figures estimate that these households include 3,833 adults below the pension age, around 1,014 pension age adults and 1,921 dependent children meaning 6,768 people would not be living below the poverty line if the cost of smoking was returned to the household.
The calculator shows councils how many people in their area are in poverty because of smoking and what an impact services to help people quit smoking can have to reduce rates of poverty.
Professor Kate Ardern, director of public health at Wigan Council, said: “I welcome the analysis by ASH of the potential financial benefit of quitting smoking.
“This is one of the reasons our friendly and supportive smoking cessation services are targeted particularly to help smokers quit in the poorest households to improve family finances as well as health.
“It is easy to find support to stop smoking by going to www.wigan.gov.uk and search for stop smoking and there are a variety of support to help you quit.”
The national data shows that of the five million households in England that include an adult smoker are below the poverty line and an estimated 418,000 households could be lifted out of poverty if they quit smoking.
In a statement alongside the calculator by the charity reads: “Raising tax is the only tobacco control intervention which has been proven to have a greater effect on more disadvantaged smokers at population level and so contribute to reducing health inequalities.
“ASH supports increasing tobacco taxation as long as the same time HM Government continues to provide adequate funding for measures to help smokers to quit and population measures to reduce smoking.”
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health said: “Smoking puts poorer families under significant financial pressure.
“This in turn places a burden on local services and negatively impacts the local economy.
“Investment in services is vital to reduce smoking prevalence.
“This will not only save lives but it will put money back into the pockets of the poorest households.”