Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to become ill while still of working age, thereby increasing the likelihood of being out of work, research from the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has argued.
The cost to the economy is some £13.2bn, the charity has also said, while the cost of smoking to society generally, and just in England, is £17.14bn, it has calculated, higher than the £12.5bn extrapolated under previous estimates.
As well as smoking reducing a worker’s potential earning potential over the course of their life, smokers are more likely to die while they are still of working age, creating a further loss to the economy, ASH said.
Smokers’ need for health and social care at a younger age than non-smokers also created extra costs, with smoking costing the NHS an additional £2.4bn and a further £1.2bn in social care costs.
This included the cost of care provided in the home and, for the first time, residential care costs, even though many of smokers’ care needs tend to be met informally by friends and family.
Smoking and work
Smoking-related fires are the leading cause of fire-related deaths, and the costs of property damage, injuries and deaths amount to another £280m, said ASH.
On top of all this, the direct cost of smoking itself needed to be taken into account. Smokers lose a large part of their income to tobacco, an estimated £12bn in England each year, or approximately £2,000 per smoker, said the charity, dwarfing the estimated £10bn that smoking brings in in tax in England.
Deborah Arnott, ASH chief executive, said: “Smoking is a drain on society. It’s a cost to individuals in terms of their health and wealth and a cost to us all because it undermines the productivity of our economy and places additional burdens on our NHS and care services.”