£1.5bn cost of smoking to Humber and North Yorkshire revealed as consultation on creating a smokefree generation closes

Health leaders in Humber and North Yorkshire have welcomed the public support for creating a smokefree generation, as the government consultation closes.

Representatives from the tobacco control programme at the Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, spoke to people across the length and breadth of the region, to get their views on stopping the start of smoking to protect the next generation.

There was overwhelming support for proposals from people of all ages, smokers and non-smokers.

It comes as Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has published new figures showing the far-reaching impact smoking has on society. The charity says it demonstrates why action to make smoking history is needed and how this will benefit the whole of society.

Across Humber and North Yorkshire (East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston upon Hull, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire and York) – the cost of smoking totals over £1.5Bn in lost productivity and service costs.

The figure for lost productivity is far greater than previous estimates as it includes areas of lost productivity where the impact of smoking has not previously been estimated.

Stephen Eames, Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board Chief Executive, said:

“It is disheartening to witness the significant toll smoking continues to take on the Humber and North Yorkshire area. Our children and young people are especially vulnerable, and it is our duty to protect them from the harms of tobacco. The figures released by ASH underscore tobacco’s multifaceted impact on our society. From lost productivity to increased health and social care costs. We must prioritise raising the age of sale for tobacco products to safeguard the health and future of our younger generation.”

Scott Crosby, Associate Director, Centre of Excellence in Tobacco Control, Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, said:

“The close of the public consultation marks a pivotal moment in our ongoing battle against tobacco-related health issues. It’s evident that smoking not only damages individual health but also exerts a heavy burden on our communities. Raising the age of sale for tobacco products is an essential step in breaking the cycle of addiction. We must act decisively to protect young people, reduce the associated societal costs, and create a healthier, more sustainable future for our region.”

Peter Roderick, Director of Public Health, City of York Council, said:

“Humber and North Yorkshire has varying rates of smoking, but most concerningly, some areas have up to one in five people dependent on tobacco. It drags our economy down when people are off work due to tobacco related illnesses. It adds pressure onto our NHS, when up to a quarter of hospital admissions can be attributed to long term tobacco usage, not to mention the impact on social care, emergency services and littering. Underneath it all, and most importantly, tobacco affects people’s health, happiness, and quality of life – the impacts of smoking are just endless. By doing everything we can in the Humber and North Yorkshire area to support this proposed legislation, we’ll see a healthier, happier, and fairer region with a better economy and less inequality.”

Howard Reed from Landman Economics who undertook the analysis underpinning the estimate of these costs, said:

“Smoking damages society in many ways that people are often unaware of. It is in fact the economic impact of tobacco, far more than healthcare, that creates the biggest costs to society. Local economies with the highest rates of smoking will also pay the highest price often compounding already high levels of disadvantage. A smokefree future is likely to benefit poorest communities the most.”

The Government is proposing to raise the age of sale one year every year so that those born before 2009 will never be legally sold tobacco. Last month the new administration in New Zealand pledged to repeal a similar law as part of a coalition deal claiming it would enable them to cut taxes. 

Chief Executive of ASH Deborah Arnott said:

“In New Zealand politicians have made the ludicrous claim that repealing their smokefree generation laws will allow them to cut taxes. The opposite is clearly the case. The cost of smoking to public services and public finances is far greater than the taxes tobacco raises, and there are multiple economic benefits from spending on products that have more value to the economy and create a healthier workforce.

“In England the tobacco tax take is £11.3 billion in 2023, but the cost to public finances and the economy is four times greater, so creating a smokefree generation is the prudent economic strategy for us, as it is for New Zealand.”

Last week ASH published new public opinion data showing that 68% of people in Yorkshire and the Humber back the measure. This was a national survey which included 372 people from Yorkshire and the Humber. Nationally support was high across those who plan to vote for all the major parties (74% Conservative, 72% Labour, 65% Liberal Democrat) showing the level of cross party consensus on protecting the next generation from the harms from smoking.

Full break down of the costs of smoking to Humber and North Yorkshire

Total cost to Humber and North Yorkshire = £1.5Bn made up of:

  • Productivity costs = £938.3m
  • Healthcare costs = £60.5m
  • Social care costs = £514.5m
  • Fire costs = £8.6m

ASH Ready Reckoner breakdowns are available for regions, local authorities and Integrated Care Board geographies, click here to find out more.