Smoking breaks ‘cost Herts economy £127million a year’

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Whether it is extra strain on the health service or reduced productivity in the work place, smoking is reckoned to be a major drain on the county’s coffers.

New figures released this week by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) show that smoking costs Hertfordshire’s economy almost £300million a year.

But the biggest cost to the economy is not early deaths (£80million), smoking-
related disease (£34million) or lost productivity because of sick days (£22million).

Instead the big cost is from people taking smoking breaks – reckoned to have cost Hertfordshire firms nearly £127million last year because of lost productivity.

Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe, cabinet member for adult care and health at Hertfordshire County Council, used the figures to call for more government funding for social care.

She said: “The East of England faces a crisis as funding for social care has failed to keep pace with demand.

“This new research shows that smoking is making the situation worse and if smokers are not given help to quit even more strain will be placed on stretched services.

“On top of this, smoking remains the leading cause of health inequalities, responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest, and harms our vulnerable communities the most.

“Helping smokers quit must remain a top public health priority.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: “We know that most local authorities remain committed to reducing smoking but key services are under threat from public health funding cuts.”

What do you think? Is smoking a problem that is hurting everyone? Or do people deserve time to light up during the working day?

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