NHS still counting the cost of smoking


Tuesday 7th October, 2008

A new report has claimed that treatment for smoking related disease is costing the NHS £2.7billion compared with £1.7billion ten years ago.

And that figure could have been closer to £3billion if the number of people now smoking hadn’t fallen from 12 to 9 million, according to the anti-smoking group ‘Ash’.

While the UK government look at the next step for tobacco controls and regulation, this new report proposes mandatory plain packaging for cigarettes as a way to cut smoking.

Other measures to cut the number of people smoking or taking up smoking include restrictions on display of tobacco products in shops by placing then under the counter and the removal of branding or logos from tobacco product packaging.

Smokers’ lobby groups such as ‘Forest’ oppose these measures saying they are unnecessary, unreasonable and unjustified. They also argue that smokers currently pay over £9billion a year in tobacco tax.

Since 2003, the law states that manufacturers must use trademarks, text or any sign to suggest that certain products are less harmful such as calling cigarettes ‘smooth’ or ‘light’.

Research carried out at Nottingham University suggests that young people are three to four times less likely to buy a pack of cigarettes if the packaging is plain when trying smoking for the first time. This supports the latest proposals and counters claims from the tobacco industry that plain packs would be more attractive.

“The government could save thousands of lives and hundreds of millions from the NHS budget with an ambitious new tobacco control strategy,” said Deborah Arnott, director of Ash.

“More than anything we need to protect young people from the aggressive marketing techniques employed by the tobacco industry.”

Jill Morrell of the British Lung Foundation said: “Two thirds of people with smoking-related lung disease tell us there should be a ban on cigarette vending machines in future and the same number say they want to see cigarettes removed from display in supermarkets.”

For those seeking help to stop smoking, alternative medicine and complementary therapy have a number of beneficial and effective treatments to help.

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