Alcoholic Drinks and Smoking: Health Services

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 16 May 2024.

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Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Reclaim, North West Leicestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if she will make an estimate of the cost to the public purse of treating (a) smoking related illnesses and (b) alcohol related illnesses in the last 12 months.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Tobacco is uniquely harmful, with no safe level of smoking, and no other consumer product that kills two thirds of its long-term users. It causes one in four cancer deaths, including 70% of lung cancer cases, and takes approximately 80,000 lives every year. The latest estimates from Action on Smoking and Health put the cost of smoking in England at over £21 billion. This includes an annual £18 billion loss to productivity through smoking related lost earnings, unemployment, and early death, as well as costs to the National Health Service and social care of £3 billion.

The Department estimated the annual cost of alcohol consumption to the NHS to be £4 billion in 2021. The previous estimate published alongside the Government’s 2012 Alcohol Strategy was updated to reflect inflation. The Department has begun a review of existing methods and evidence to update this estimate. The estimated costs of alcohol and smoking related illnesses to the NHS were not designed to be compared, and are based on different methods, data sources, and time periods.

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