RSPH welcomes a new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, recognising the escalating costs of smoking to social care.
Research published by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), included in the report, shows an annual cost to local authorities of £760m, up £160m from 2012, for services that help people with smoking-related illnesses stay in their own homes. These figures are particularly worrying, coming as they do at a time of continuing cuts to stop smoking services, and a funding gap for social care predicted to reach £2.6 billion by 2020.
This research highlights how crucial it is to ensure that smoking prevalence in the UK continues its long-term decline. RSPH therefore fully supports the recommendations in the report, in particular the calls for:
- An urgent reversal of the decline in funding for stop smoking services within local authorities.
- All NHS hospitals to become fully smoke-free across all sites.
- The government to publish the latest tobacco control plan for England without delay.
- The government to reconsider the proposal of a levy on tobacco manufacturers, in line with the principle established by the sugar tax.
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “This report makes clearer than ever the huge pressure smoking places on our social care system, a system that is already and increasingly strapped for cash. At the same time, funding is being cut for stop smoking services – the very services which would ultimately reduce the burden on social care budgets to treat smoking related illness. This is another example of government asking for more to be done with less.
“We know that smoking is the leading cause of health inequalities in the UK – it is responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between richest and poorest social classes. So if Theresa May is to follow through on her belief in fighting the “burning injustice” of health inequality, a commitment to reduce tobacco-driven harm through the measures recommended by this report would represent a much needed first step.”