Leader Calls for Government Action to Stub Out Smoking
The Leader of South Tyneside Council is urging the government to make a national commitment to make smoking obsolete.
Councillor Tracey Dixon has written to the Secretary of State for Health to endorse the recommendations set out in the Khan Review.
The review found that without further action, England will miss the government's target to be smoke-free by 2030 by at least seven years. Furthermore, the poorest areas in society will not meet the target until 2044.
Dr Javed Khan OBE called for increased investment of £125 million per year in smoke-free policies to support people to quit, an increase in the age of sale, promote vaping as an effective smoking cessation tool for adults, and encourage the NHS to invest more in encouraging people to stop smoking.
In her letter Councillor Dixon says: "Despite the significant progress made within South Tyneside and the North East as a whole in reducing overall adult smoking levels to 15.3 per cent (the biggest drop of any region since 2005) we recognise that smoking is still the single biggest cause of preventable death and disease in our region and a key driver of health inequalities. In South Tyneside there is a gap in life expectancy for men of 10.3 years mapped between the most and least deprived areas, and 6.9 years for women. Tobacco is still the largest preventable cause of these differences."
In her letter she highlights how smoking costs South Tyneside around £55.5 million a year in healthcare, social care costs and lost earnings. This is broken down as follows:
- £7.45 million to the NHS from smoking-related healthcare - 2,379 hospital admissions, 77,490 GP consultations, 43,060 GP prescriptions, 25,070 practice nurse consultations and 13,250 outpatient visits.
- £4.8 million in social care costs, with smokers needing social care at a younger age than non-smokers for everyday tasks such as dressing, walking and using the toilet due to smoking.
- Over £42 million a year in lost earnings and employment prospects. Smokers are not only more likely to die in working age, but more likely to become ill, increasing the likelihood of being out of work and reducing their average wage.
In her letter she adds: "For all these and many other reasons we ask the government to heed the clear set of recommendations within the Khan review and to urgently progress the development of a new comprehensive and adequately funded Tobacco Control Plan for England.
"We know that there is a high level of public support in the North East for further measures to reduce smoking and most smokers themselves would like to stop smoking and many regret having started in the first place.
"We remain committed in South Tyneside to prioritise further action on smoking, but this must be met by an effective national commitment, action and funding to achieve this ambition."