'Tobacco companies should pay for damage to society from smoking'

Smoking costs the UK taxpayer millions every year <i>(Image: Getty Images)</i>
Smoking costs the UK taxpayer millions every year (Image: Getty Images)

Tobacco manufacturers should be made to pay a levy to pay for the costs to society from smoking, according to Swindon council.

Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for Adults and Health, Brian Ford, has signed a letter with other councillors urging the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay to bring about the changes.

The letter, coordinated by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Cancer Research UK, says an estimated £3.6 billion is spent on smoking-related health and social care in England every year on top of £13.2 billion each year in lost economic productivity resulting from smoking-related  premature death and disability.

In Swindon alone, it is estimated that 22,743 adults - or 12.5 per cent of the adult population - smoke, and it kills approximately 233 people a year.

It works out at around four deaths per week.

Smoking-related illness in Swindon is associated with 2,000 hospital admissions including 105,640 GP consultations and 60,230 GP prescriptions linked to conditions such as cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Coun Ford said: “I am supporting this call to action to bring forward a new Tobacco Control Plan for England and to introduce a ‘polluter pays’ levy on tobacco manufacturers.

"Smoking remains the biggest driver of health inequalities and has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of residents in Swindon.

“We recognise that smoking is an addiction, not a choice and supporting ways for people to quit and creating a smokefree environment remains a priority.”