Quitting smoking would lift 96,000 people in the East out of poverty
New figures from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) show that of the 455,000 households in the East that include an adult smoker 158,000 (35%) are below the poverty line.
An estimated 36,000 households could be lifted out of poverty if they quit smoking.
These households comprise around 96,000 people including 25,000 children and 15,000 pensioners. On average households that include a smoker spend £2,158 a year on tobacco.
The figures are published today alongside a health inequalities toolkit advising local authorities and the NHS on how to reduce smoking rates among those experiencing health inequalities.
Most people start smoking as teenagers and after a year of smoking 85% say they would find it difficult to quit.
Smokers often try to quit many times before they are successful but those from disadvantaged backgrounds face particular barriers as they are more likely to be highly addicted and to live in communities where smoking rates are high.
These smokers often need more support than others to successfully quit.
Professor John Moxham, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at King’s College London School of Medicine said: “Smoking disproportionately affects the most disadvantaged in society and is one of the major reasons that poorer people get ill and die younger. Smokers from poorer backgrounds tend to start younger and are more likely to become more highly addicted, with their addiction contributing to ongoing poverty.
“The Government must support local authorities to end these unacceptable inequalities.”
Dr Sanjay Agrawal, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust said: “Smoking puts poorer families under significant financial pressure. This in turn places a burden on local services and negatively impacts the local economy.
“Our services to help people quit not only save lives but they put money back into the pockets of the poorest households in our community.”