The cost of treating smokers

The 'tumour cigarette' TV advert
The 'tumour cigarette' TV advert

HOSPITAL treatment for smokers has cost Wiganers more than £40 each, according to shock new figures.

And public health experts say the statistics expose the strain on NHS resources caused by preventable smoking related conditions.

A new report issued by the Public Health Observatory (PHO) estimates that £1bn has been spent on smoking related hospital admissions in recent years, working out at £37 per capita.

Wigan’s figures reveal that during 2010/11, the total cost of smokers’ admissions worked out at £44.20 per capita, more than £7 higher than the national average.

Dr Kate Ardern, executive director of public health for the borough of Wigan, said that help is at hand for those who want to quit.

She said: “We have invested so heavily in the borough in providing help for smokers because people who stop smoking before the age of 40 - and preferably well before this age - will significantly reduce their risk of dying prematurely.

“I advise anyone who smokes to phone the local Stop Smoking Service and get the support you need as soon as possible.”

The borough has a higher percentage of smokers - at 22.8 per cent - than the national average of 20 per cent, according to the PHO report.

It also states that smoking related treatments account for approximately 5.5 per cent of the NHS budget and admissions to hospital due to smoking conditions represent a large demand on its resources.

The report read: “These figures aim to highlight the resource implications of preventable smoking related conditions on inpatient hospital services and to support the arguments for local smoking prevention and health promotion initiatives.”

For the period 2008 to 2010, 276 per 100,000 people aged 35 or over in Wigan died from causes attributable to smoking with 1813 per 100,000 hospital admissions due to smoking.

Manchester recorded the highest rate for smoking attributable mortality at 372 deaths per 100,000.

A spokesman for public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said it is time for advertising rules for cigarettes to be changed.

He said: “We estimate that the total public cost of smoking in Wigan is more than £96m and on top of that smokers in Wigan spend about £104m of their own money per year. All this underscores the desperate need for the government to act.

“Plain, standard packs for tobacco products should be introduced, the UK government is considering this but since their consultation closed six months ago, we estimate that more than 9,000 children in the North West could already have started to smoke.”

To contact to free Stop Smoking Service, call 0500 7867 669.