Smoking among over-50s costs Havering £6.5m
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Social care for smokers aged 50 and over in Havering is costing more than £6.5million a year.
Newly published data, from Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), revealed that smoking costs the council £3.5m – with smokers paying a further £2.9m – for social care for related illnesses.
The charity said the problem was contributing to the “current social care crisis” and comes at a time when the government has cut the local authority public health grant which pays for stop smoking services (SSS).
However SSS in Havering were scrapped in April last year – with doctors estimating 1,500 smokers will not receive the support they need to quit each year, leading to a further 500 hospital admissions.
The loss of the service may already have had an effect on the borough as Havering had the lowest proportion of successful quitters between April to September 2016 – just four of 22 people kicking the habit.
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This is in stark contrast to 2014/2015 when 1,763 of Havering’s 35,000 smokers set a quit date with the stop-smoking service. And 1,223 had quit after four weeks.
A spokeswoman for Havering Council said that while it would have preferred to maintain SSS it had to be scrapped due to cuts.
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“The cuts to the council’s budgets, including the ring fenced public health grant, have been so severe that we have had to make some very difficult choices about how we spend our money to best effect.
“It is with considerable regret that we have had to decommission the stop smoking service in Havering, which costs about £500k per annum to run. This will allow us to continue funding other services, especially those for children and families, that will lead to better health outcomes for our population.”
The council added it will maintain support for pregnant women. Anyone who wants to quit is advised to go to nhs.co.uk/smokefree.