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Town Hall: Smoking costs St Helens economy £48m a year
6:00am Monday 2nd September 2013 in News
SMOKING costs the local economy an estimated £48million a year, including £14.4m from early deaths, councillors in St Helens have said.
They cited figures claiming £19m in lost productivity and sickness absence contributes to the huge sum along with £9.5m in NHS costs and £3m in cleaning and smoking related fires.
Town Hall leaders released the figures as they pledged to “pile more pressure on tobacco manufacturers” by joining other authorities signing up to the ‘Local Authority Declaration on Tobacco’.
According to councillors, the charter is a statement of intent that the council will do everything in its power to cut smoking rates in the borough - and highlight the harm that smoking causes.
St Helens Council says smoking is falling in the town but it is believed more than a fifth of the adult population smoke, and that figure is believed to be much higher in some communities.
There are also fears that children continue to become hooked because they get hold of tobacco sold on the blackmarket.
The council adds smokers in the borough also spend £52m a year on tobacco products and suggests a couple with a 20 a day habit spend up to £5,000 a year.
Councillor Gareth Cross, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “We simply can’t ignore the facts – and they are that tobacco kills around 80,000 people a year nationally, compared with 2,000 deaths due to road traffic accidents.
“Reducing smoking rates is one of our priorities - and things are improving. Adult smoking prevalence in St Helens has reduced from 27per cent in 2007 to 21.7per cent in 2012 and is now similar to the national average.
“But there’s still a long way to go. Tobacco is still the lifestyle factor with the biggest impact in St Helens and we know that in some areas of St Helens smoking rates are much higher than 21.7per cent.
“We also know that many young people are still taking up the habit.”
St Helens Council says it is the first council on Merseyside to sign up to the Declaration on Tobacco, joining Manchester, Salford and Newcastle City Councils and Warwickshire County Council in their drive to cut smoking rates.
The declaration is designed to strengthen the lobby for a tobacco policy at national and European level.
The move has been endorsed by the St Helens Health and Wellbeing Board, with each member organisation also committing to signing.
Want to quit smoking? Get in touch with the St Helens Stop Smoking Service on 01744 814837 or email email@example.com.
Alternatively Text: QUIT plus name and postcode to 80039.
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