Costs to Community: Over half of Brits had no idea that smoking costs the UK government around £12.6 billion per year, discovers survey
In the UK, the cost of smoking to the government is approximately a £12.6 billion expense per year. This includes £1.4 billion spent on social care for care needs relating to smoking, as well as £8.6 billion of lost business productivity and £2.5 billion on NHS services. There are efforts that attempt to decrease the smoking rate in the country, including a national day dedicated solely to create awareness about the habit: No Smoking Day, which falls on the 11th of March each year.
In addition to costing the government so much extra money, the burden of healthcare falls on the NHS, who must dedicate time, resources, equipment, and medical supplies to patients who are suffering from smoking-related issues. And of course, this not only includes smokers, but those around them who might struggle with things like asthma or other lung diseases related to second-hand smoke. Moreover, all these monetary values ultimately add up costing the smoker an excessive amount as well. On average, smokers consume around 10 cigarettes per day and after the last tax hike in the UK, the average cost of the most expensive brand of 20-pack cigarettes is just over £13.60. When these figures are added up, there are an endless list of things one could do with these savings when they quit cigarettes and switch to alternatives like vaping, for example.
GoSmokeFree.co.uk surveyed 700 Brits across the country to find out how much they know about the cost of smoking in relation to lifestyle factors such as tax and government expenses. This survey discovered that more than half (59%) of people said they weren’t aware that the cost of smoking to the UK government is approximately £12.6 billion per year. This constitutes a host of costs associated with smoking and the general community; funds that could potentially be allocated elsewhere if they weren’t necessary to dedicate to smoking-related issues. Considering nearly half (48%) of current and ex-smokers admit they have thrown a cigarette butt on the ground, it’s also important to note that these government expenses must consist of cleaning up cigarette butts, which aren’t biodegradable and can release toxic chemicals into the environment.
It appears people do, however, feel strongly about smokers and tax costs, considering such a significant portion of the governmental budget is allocated to smoking-related costs. Over half (56%) of respondents said they think people should pay elevated tax rates due to the increased burden smoking places on the NHS. And additionally, over half (56%) of people said they think smoking should be made illegal, given the burden that it places on the NHS.
As mentioned previously, these NHS hospital admissions don’t only include smoking individuals, but those around them too who might be affected by passive smoke and other related illnesses and diseases. As a potential solution to the smoking problem, over half (59%) of people also said they think vaping products should be free of tax costs in order to encourage people to kick their cigarette habit. However, nearly 3 in 4 (73%) of people also said they don’t think health authorities do enough to encourage smokers to quit by switching to vaping. This could include training sessions on smoking cessation, which could consist of alternatives to the habit.
Apart from general health improvement and decreasing the impact on the environment, quitting smoking can have a positive effect on an individual’s bank account. In fact, more than half (63%) of those who switched from smoking to vaping said they’ve put the extra money they saved away in the bank. Another 13% said they’ve spent the additional cash on new clothing – presumably after spending months on end in loungewear during lockdown, and now having to re-enter the world! A further 11% said they’ve spent these savings on socialising with friends – again, a significant treat after spending so many months social distancing in lockdown. Another 11% said they’ve bought new electronics with their cigarette-free savings and lastly, 3% said they’ve spent it on new beauty-related products. It appears the trend of self-care extends into our daily lives in an effort to improve our appearances, after again, being indoors and not seeing other people for so many months on end.