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Cost of smoking outweighs tax revenue, says report

Smoking costs the Welsh economy almost £800m a year, according to a report by charity ASH Wales.

cigarette displayThe report, backed by BMA Cymru Wales, estimates that of the £791m lost, £302m is spent on healthcare and £288m is lost to productivity through premature deaths.

Other costs of smoking include:

  • £49.5m lost through excess sickness absence
  • £45.4m lost through premature death due to second hand smoke
  • £41m lost to businesses through smoking breaks
  • £25.8m spent clearing up smoking-related litter.

The Cost of Smoking to Businesses in Wales also reveals the cost of smoking to the economy as a whole is £145m higher each year than the amount generated by taxing tobacco.


Economy 'dragged down'

BMA Welsh secretary Richard Lewis said: 'Not only does smoking devastate our health ... it also has a considerable negative impact on the Welsh economy as these statistics show.'

He said government tax revenue did not go 'anywhere near covering the costs' of smoking to the ecomony, which also included costs of smoking-related fires in commercial properties, dropped productivity and absenteeism.

'We therefore need to be tougher on the tobacco industry, using the strongest possible measures to control the sale of tobacco,' he added.

'We need to increase the duty on tobacco, holding tobacco companies to account and requiring greater transparency, while continuing to fund prevention and cessation services to help smokers quit and stop young people from smoking.'

ASH Wales chief executive Elen de Lacy said: 'The evidence on both the costs to the economy and to public health of smoking is stark and they are dragging Wales down.

'We know that the vast majority of people who smoke want to quit, but we need more investment in a wider range of services that suit people’s needs. If we don’t invest the resources needed we will struggle to reduce smoking rates from 23 per cent to 16 per cent in Wales by 2020 and the burden on the economy will continue to increase.'

Read The Cost of Smoking to Businesses in Wales