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WATCH: How much smoking is really costing Cornwall

WATCH: How much smoking is really costing Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:01am 4th June 2018. (Updated at 9:32am 4th June 2018)

It has been revealed that smoking is costing Cornwall more than £120m every year.

According to research from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), that is across things like healthcare, business and buying tobacco.

The Duchy is also seeing almost 5,500 hospital admissions during that time.

Across the south west, the annual cost is £277.2 million to the NHS, and £72.4 million to local authorities from smoking-related social care needs.

Bosses say that smoking remains the largest cause of preventable death in the region.

However, a 2016 audit found that more than 1 in 4 hospital patients were not asked if they smoke and 50% of frontline staff are not given routine smoking cessation training.

ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott said: "The Five Year Forward View calls for a 'radical upgrade in prevention and public health' but this has not been followed through and smokers are not getting the support they need to quit from the NHS.

"In some areas, Local Authority Stop Smoking Services have been reduced due to cuts in local authority funding.

"Cuts to public health budgets need to be reversed and the NHS needs to step-up and play a larger role in supporting smokers to quit."

ASH argues that the tobacco industry should be forced to pay to address the harm it causes in line with the 'polluter pays' principle.

It is estimated that tobacco companies in the UK make a collective annual profit of around £1 billion.

ASH is calling for the government to place a levy on the tobacco industry with the money raised used to fund support for the recurring costs of tobacco control measures to reduce smoking prevalence, such as mass media campaigns, cessation services and local authority enforcement to prevent illicit trade and underage sales.

Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, President of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: "These figures published by ASH today demonstrate the unacceptable financial burden smoking places on society and how it drives health inequalities in our communities.

"Smoking costs the South West alone over £1.1 billion a year. Public health funding nationally will have been cut by £531 million by 2020/21.

"These cuts impact upon Directors of Public Health's ability to provide public health services. Cuts to the public health budget must be reversed to enable us to protect and improve the health of our residents.

"The NHS needs to up its game on prevention and reducing health inequalities - supporting all patients who smoke to quit would have a major impact.

"We commit to working in partnership with them through emerging systems to make this a reality."

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