Smoking costs Plymouth £78.2million a year
CIGARETTE breaks are costing Plymouth businesses £16.5m a year in lost productivity.
The Herald today reveals the true cost of a habit that annually costs the city £78.2m – that's £280 a year for each and every city resident.
Shocking figures also show that in Plymouth:
We experience 600 avoidable, early deaths every year from smoking related disease
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The output lost from early deaths is £23.3m a year
Smoking annually costs the local NHS £15.3m
Sick days due to smoking related illnesses cost us £14.2m every year
People dying early as a result of passive smoking costs £4m a year in lost productivity
House fires caused through smoking annually costs £2.9m
Cleaning up cigarette butts and smoking materials costs the city £1.9m every year
And every week the city's 48,566 smokers spend over £1m buying tobacco – that's more than £55m a year.
Over the last 12 months The Herald's loveLIFE campaign encouraged hundreds of smokers to stub out a remarkable 5,118,695 cigarettes – and we want that to continue in the New Year.
Plymouth has the highest number of smokers anywhere in the South West and we are in the top half of places in the whole country in terms of our smoking population.
Jane Bullard, tobacco control lead for Public Health Plymouth, said: "The figures for Plymouth are truly disturbing but it does show how smoking is affecting everyone in the city.
"I would urge everyone to think about how they can help reduce the numbers of lives lost to smoking each year and how we can prevent our children and young people from taking up this deadly habit."
Nationally 20.7 per cent of people smoke, but in Plymouth 25.1 per cent of the population are smokers.
The figures, from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), highlight the seriousness of our city's problem, said Russ Moody, senior public health manager for tobacco control at Public Health Plymouth.
"The figures are very alarming and show that we've got a lot of work to do," he said.
"We have a very serious problem in Plymouth and have high rates of smokers compared to the national average.
"More than one in five people in the city smoke and that's why we have high rates of smoking related diseases and deaths.
"In Plymouth smoking is the single biggest cause of premature death and disease we face.
We lose 600 people a year to smoking – that's 600 people that could be spending time with their grandchildren and gardening."
Mr Moody said reducing the number of city smokers always has been and remains a "priority" for the public health team.
Councillor Sue McDonald, cabinet member for public health and adult social care at Plymouth City Council, said: "We know that smoking is a factor in the marked health inequalities we experience in Plymouth and, as public health moves to the council next year, we will be building on the existing projects in the city to reduce smoking and drawing health agencies in the city together to help us create healthier communities."
THE financial impact of smoking paints a "very stark" picture of the problem Plymouth has, according to business leaders.
Tim Jones, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said: "The figures are shocking and they paint a very stark picture of the problem we have. Clearly we can no longer walk around in the dark – the problem must be addressed and we would support anything that does that."
He added: "It is useful to have these figures to be able to perhaps look at coming up with a health related agenda around smoking and exercise to address the problem and improve productivity in the workplace."
Smokers cost city businesses over £30m each year through sickness and cigarette breaks. The updated 2012 figures, from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), show that £16.5m in lost productivity through cigarette breaks and £14.2m from smoking-related sick days.
Under the smoking legislation that was introduced in 2007, smoking in all enclosed public spaces – including workplaces such as offices, factories and shops – is illegal, and employers are not required to provide cigarette breaks by law.
David Parlby, chief executive of the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "Intuitively you would expect smoking breaks to have a cost on any business, but you would also have to ask the question if the employees who smoke make the time up later in the day.
"Also, who knows what smokers discuss during their cigarette breaks, but it could be ways to improve the business, equally it might not be.
"It's true to say that society is certainly cracking down on smokers, by making them go outside for example, so perhaps this is an unanticipated consequence of the Government's policy."