Charity estimates the cost of Surrey's smokers to the nation

Smokers in Surrey are costing the nation an estimated total of more than £214 million a year.

That was the message from Surrey County Council, quoting statistics from research carried out by campaigning public health charity, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

The charity, set up by the Royal College of Physicians in 1971 to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco, said the findings of its research showed smoking costs the nation nearly £14 billion every year.

The figures have been provided to coincide with the national Stoptober campaign, that aims to get millions of smokers to quit this month.

The charity said that in Surrey alone, the nicotine habit of more than 130,000 people is estimated to cost society more than £214 million a year.

It said that total includes costs of more than £42 million for the NHS, more than £45 million for work breaks, and nearly £39 million for sick days.

The total also includes costs of almost £8 million from fires and more than £5 million from cleaning up smoking-related litter.

The figure for England includes the cost of treating smokers on the NHS (£2.7 billion), the loss in productivity from smoking breaks (£2.9 billion) and increased absenteeism (£2.5 billion). It also covers the costs of cleaning up cigarette butts (£342 million), fires in homes (£507 million) and passive smoking (£713 million), as well as the £11.3 billion smokers contribute to the Exchequer in duty.

During October, people in Surrey will be joining fellow smokers for the health campaign, which is challenging people to quit for 28 days with the message that people who successfully give up for those four weeks are then five times more likely to stay non-smokers.

Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, Michael Gosling, said: “Kicking the habit improves health and saves people and the nation money.”

Coun Gosling said: “With a packet of 20 cigarettes costing up to £8, those who quit will soon feel the cash benefit and their bodies will thank them immediately.

“Between this April and June, around 1,000 Surrey smokers quit, and we’re aiming to keep this momentum going during Stoptober and beyond as the county council prepares to take full responsibility for public health from next April.”

Free support is available for people who want to quit smoking by either signing up for daily motivational texts, downloading a smartphone app, getting a weekly phone call from a professional, or by going to a clinic.

For more information and details of how to sign up to Stoptober and to get a free help pack, including a stress toy to keep hands busy, visit the website: www.surreycc.gov.uk/stoptober

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