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19.05.17

NHS could save £67m per year by reducing smoker numbers

The NHS could create savings of £67m per year if the number of people who smoked was cut down to 5% by 2035, a new study has claimed.

If the health service could reach this target, around 100,000 cases of smoking-related disease, including 35,900 cancers, would be avoided, saving huge amounts of cash from health and social care budgets.

The study conducted by the UK Health Forum, commissioned by Cancer Research UK, also warned that if today’s trends continue then around 15% of people from the most deprived groups are predicted to smoke in 2035 compared to just 2.5% from wealthier groups.

“This study highlights the huge burden that smoking places on our society, particularly on the poorest and least advantaged groups,” said Professor Paul Lincoln, UK Health Forum chief executive.

Prof Lincoln added that unless more was done to prevent the demand on the NHS from preventable smoking, it will be difficult to continue to provide sustainable healthcare for everyone who needs it.

“We hope that by showing the clear benefits of this tobacco free ambition, we can inform tobacco control policy in the UK and even worldwide,” he concluded.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer prevention, said that bold and ambitious targets were needed to save the thousands of lives and millions of pounds of NHS money lost to tobacco.

“We want the next government to share our ambition for the next generation of children to grow up ‘tobacco-free’,” she said. “This target should be at the heart of a new strategy to tackle smoking.

“Measures like sustained funding for Stop Smoking Services, mass media campaigns and increased tax on tobacco all have the potential to help smokers to stop, and create much-needed revenue to support programmes that will reduce the burden on our health service.”

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