Borough’s smokers are costing millions in social care support
19th July 2019
NEW figures have revealed the social care costs caused by smoking, with Kent County Council [KCC] having to spend more than £2.7million to look after the one in seven people in Tunbridge Wells who haven’t kicked the habit.
According to figures by the Office of National Statistics, 14.8 per cent of over 18s in Tunbridge Wells smoke, and although the figure is around the national average, it means about 7,000 people over the age of 18 in the borough remain hooked on tobacco.
Anti-campaign group ASH [Action on Smoking and Health] say the cost burden of smokers is now being picked up by local authorities, as a lifetime of the habit starts catching up with users.
According to ASH, using figures from NHS Digital, Tunbridge Wells smokers cost £2,785,353 in social care each year.
Caring for people with smoking related illnesses across the county costs Kent £38.7 million in total, and while ASH estimate around £17million of this will be privately funded, taxpayers have to pick up the remaining £22million.
The campaign group say that Kent has the sixth highest social care cost caused by smoking in the country.
While the number of smokers across the UK has more than halved in the last decade, with people turning to alternatives such as vaping, or quitting altogether, the habit is still costing local authorities around £1.4billion a year in social care costs alone.
Nationally, Greater Manchester, has the highest number of smokers, which adds £79million to the northern city’s social care bill.
In Kent, the highest number can be found in Folkestone and Hythe, where more than 22 per cent of people still smoke cigarettes.
Around 14 per cent of people in Tonbridge & Malling still light up too, but the lowest in is Sevenoaks, where just over one in ten people smoke.
Andrew Scott-Clark, Director of Public Health at KCC, which has to pick up most of Kent’s social care bill, said: “We’re pleased that the number of people smoking in Kent has reduced but it is still a major health issue in parts of the county.
“In addition, smoking causes serious illness and disability which can lead to social care costs, so quitting really is the best thing a smoker can do for their health and for the health of their families too.”