Smoking 'costs Scots economy nearly £1.1bn a year'

Image caption,
Ash Scotland said tobacco duty should be increased

Smoking costs Scotland's economy nearly £1.1bn a year, anti-smoking campaigners have claimed.

Ash Scotland considered costs such as the economic impact of illness caused by smoking as well as lost productivity through workers taking smoking breaks.

The charity said the public cost was in contrast to the £940m the Scottish government received from tobacco tax.

It said tobacco duty needed to be increased and funding boosted to cover smoking prevention services.

Ash Scotland said that lost productivity as a result of workers on smoking breaks, absenteeism among smokers and the lost output due to early deaths totalled more than £692m.

An additional cost of £60m was also identified in lost output due to deaths from people being exposed to second-hand smoke in the home.

The study also estimated that treating diseases caused by smoking cost the NHS £271m.

It added that a further £34m was spent cleaning up tobacco-related litter from the streets while the cost of fires caused by smoking in commercial properties was put at £12m.

'Major costs'

The charity's chief executive Sheila Duffy said the cost of smoking was "too high a price for Scotland to pay".

She said: "Not only does smoking devastate our health, with over 13,300 adult deaths every year and thousands of others affected by smoking-related illness, it also has a negative impact on our economy."

She added: "Taking into account NHS costs, productivity losses, premature death, costs of smoking-related fires in commercial properties, and clearing smoking-related litter, even on the conservative figures used, there is real cost of tobacco use to Scotland's economy of £1.1bn. That is a huge cost for us to bear."

Ms Duffy said the cost of smoking was greater than the money received from tobacco duties, stating: "The Scottish government estimates it receives £940m in tobacco-specific duty, leaving a deficit of at least £129m.

"Revenues gained do not cover the costs of tobacco for Scotland and neither, of course, are they designed to."

The Ash Scotland chief executive called for cash to be put into services to help smokers quit and also said tobacco duty should be increased.

Ms Duffy argued: "It is time we all realised that smoking is a drain on our finances and comes at a cost to all of us.

"We need to be tougher on the tobacco industry, increasing the duty on tobacco, holding tobacco companies to account and requiring greater transparency, and we must continue to fund prevention and cessation services to help smokers to quit and stop young people from starting.

"That is the only way we can stop the major costs of tobacco to our public health and our economy."

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said: "Whatever the anti-smoking industry might claim, smokers make a huge financial contribution to the economy through tobacco duty and VAT. That's a fact.

"The alleged cost of smoking is based not on facts but on guesstimates and calculations that have little relevance to reality."

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