11 million working days lost to smoking

11 million working days lost to smoking

Public Health England (PHE) has calculated the impact of smoking at the start of its Stoptober campaign, which encourages smokers to try and quit their habit for the month of October. PHE said smoking currently cost the English economy £13 billion a year, with businesses losing over 11 million days of productivity each year due to smoking-related sick days. However, more than 235,000 smokers have signed up to take part in Stoptober, which PHE said was encouraging because stopping smoking for 28 days made a person five times more likely to quit permanently. Cancer Research UK’s health information officer Nicola Smith said successful quitters could regain as many as 10 years of life.

“Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do for your health,” said Ms Smith. “It isn’t always easy but we know getting support is a key ingredient to improve your chances of success.

“There’s fantastic free support available from our NHS gold-standard Stop Smoking Services all year round and Stoptober is a great time to give quitting a go.”

Figures released by charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) also highlight the economic burden smoking has on the country. ASH said the £13.1 billion annual burden of smoking came from:

- smoking-related early deaths - £3bn

- smoking breaks during work - £5bn

- smoking-related sick days for local businesses - £1bn

- ill health cost for NHS trusts - £2bn

- impact on health from passive smoking - £217m

- care in later life for smokers - £1.1bn

- accidental fires caused by smoking - £610m

- cost of waste from smoking filters – 6,395 tonnes of waste annually

PHE said more than 250 companies and organisations, including major employers such as Asda, the British Army, and Unilever were supporting the Stoptober campaign, offering support to over a million employees.

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at PHE, said: “The figures speak for themselves – businesses can play an important role in helping their employees and see the benefits of a smoke free workforce.

“There are still 8 million smokers in England and two thirds saying they want to quit. Stoptober provides the perfect opportunity for employers and staff to work together towards quitting smoking for good.”

By Adrian O'Dowd

On Medica, Friday 03 October 2014

View this article