Nav: Home

Cut UK smokers to under 5 percent to lop millions off healthcare and productivity costs

May 11, 2017

Setting an ambitious UK target of a smoking prevalence of less than 5% by 2035 would avoid nearly 12,500 new cases of serious disease and save more than £600 million in healthcare and lost productivity costs in that year alone, conclude researchers in Tobacco Control.

Over the past 35 years, the number of active smokers in England has plunged to 17%, but on the basis of recent trends, smoking prevalence is projected to fall to 10% by 2035. And most of that decline will be among the most well off rather than the poorest.

Bolder action is needed if real and equitable inroads into the rising personal and societal costs of treating and managing the conditions associated with smoking are to be made by that time, say the researchers.

Despite the adoption of similar 'smoke-free' targets by New Zealand, Finland, Ireland and Scotland, the UK has not committed to this ambition.

And while policies, such as stop smoking services, smoke-free workplaces, and standardised packaging are extremely welcome, alone they are unlikely to achieve a smoking prevalence of less than 5% by 2035, the researchers point out.

In a bid to work out the extent of the personal and societal gains to be made by adopting the target, the researchers drew on a wide range of national and research data to calculate the potential number of serious diseases avoided and the healthcare and lost productivity costs saved.

They focused on 14 different types of cancer associated with smoking, including acute and chronic myelogenous leukaemia (blood cancers), as well as coronary heart disease, stroke, and COPD, the umbrella term for chronic and disabling lung disease.

Using a mathematical model that includes a broad range of risk factors and which has been used in more than 70 countries to date, the researchers calculated that 12,350 new cases of disease would be avoided--particularly lung cancer--in 2035 alone, and nearly 100,000 between 2015 and 2035.

And they worked out that the NHS would save £67 million in direct costs, while savings in non-health costs would stack up to £548 million in 2035 alone.

The researchers highlight that the diseases included in their calculations didn't cover the full range of those associated with tobacco use, nor did their model include passive smoking or other products, such as hand rolled tobacco, shisha, cigars and pipes. And they were unable to include wider societal costs, such as litter and house fires associated with smoking.

Nevertheless, "Findings from this study demonstrate that (A) there are clear health benefits delivered through achieving a ['tobacco free' ambition] by 2035 and (B) maintaining current trends in smoking prevalence is still likely to produce a sizeable disease and economic burden," they emphasise.

"Smoking rates only decline with action," they insist, adding: "Establishing a [tobacco free ambition] is an important policy endeavour to improve the health outcomes of the UK and a predicted baseline scenario of policy interventions to rid the country from the lethal grip of smoking."

These should include sustained rises in taxation on cigarettes and renewed efforts to curb smuggling, they suggest.

But achieving long lasting reductions in smoking prevalence will require cash, particularly if marginal groups of smokers are to be helped to kick their habit, they point out.

The reverse seems to be happening, they note, prompting them to urge: "With a substantial number of local authorities in England cutting back on their budgets for smoking cessation activity and mass media campaigns, a sustainable approach to public health funding should be sought in the immediacy."


Related Smoking Articles:

A case where smoking helped
A mutation in the hemoglobin of a young woman in Germany was found to cause her mild anemia.
No safe level of smoking
People who consistently smoked an average of less than one cigarette per day over their lifetime had a 64 percent higher risk of earlier death than people who never smoked.
Nearly half of women who stop smoking during pregnancy go back to smoking soon after baby is born
A major new review published today by the scientific journal Addiction reveals that in studies testing the effectiveness of stop-smoking support for pregnant women, nearly half (43 percent) of the women who managed to stay off cigarettes during the pregnancy went back to smoking within six months of the birth.
If you want to quit smoking, do it now
Smokers who try to cut down the amount they smoke before stopping are less likely to quit than those who choose to quit all in one go, Oxford University researchers have found.
Cochrane news: Have national smoking bans worked in reducing harms in passive smoking?
The most robust evidence yet, published today in the Cochrane Library, suggests that national smoking legislation does reduce the harms of passive smoking, and particularly risks from heart disease.
Advocating for raising the smoking age to 21
Henry Ford Hospital pulmonologist Daniel Ouellette, M.D., who during his 31-year career in medicine has seen the harmful effects of smoking on his patients, advocates for raising the smoking age to 21.
Stress main cause of smoking after childbirth
Mothers who quit smoking in pregnancy are more likely to light up again after their baby is born if they feel stressed.
As smoking declines, more are likely to quit
Smokeless tobacco and, more recently, e-cigarettes have been promoted as a harm reduction strategy for smokers who are 'unable or unwilling to quit.' The strategy, embraced by both industry and some public health advocates, is based on the assumption that as smoking declines overall, only those who cannot quit will remain.
Smoking around your toddler could be just as bad as smoking while pregnant
Children whose parents smoked when they were toddlers are likely to have a wider waist and a higher BMI by time they reach ten years of age, reveal researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte Justine Research Centre.
Smoking and angioplasty: Not a good combination
Quitting smoking when you have angioplasty is associated with better quality of life and less chest pain.

Related Smoking Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...