Poorer households spend almost 30% of their income on tobacco, prompting calls to increase support to stop smoking, a charity has said.
Analysis from Action on Smoking and Health Scotland (Ash Scotland) suggests that the country’s lowest income group will spend 29.4% of their income on tobacco products in 2023 – about nine times more than the 3.35% estimated to be spent by similar households in the highest income group.
Research commissioned by the charity to mark No Smoking Day on Wednesday also estimates households in the country’s lowest income group containing two or more people who smoke will spend more than £6,000 on tobacco in 2023, accounting for 73.5% of income.
Ash Scotland highlighted that smokers could save £3,308 within a year of giving up, as well as bringing health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease and lung cancer after one year and ten years respectively.
Sheila Duffy, chief executive of Ash Scotland, said: “Tobacco is a major cause of inequalities, and the projected figures for 2023 spotlight the increasing need for NHS Quit Your Way services in Scotland to be better resourced and promoted to support people to leave tobacco behind, especially in communities facing the greatest challenges.
“Addiction is not a lifestyle choice, it is a public health concern and a social justice issue, and people experiencing poverty are just as likely to want to quit smoking as anyone else.
“It is more important than ever that people facing everyday stresses during the cost-of-living crisis are empowered to access expert person-centred support free from the NHS.
“This support is vital to ensure the success of quit-smoking attempts which, if successful, will build up people’s health and finances.
“Going forward, the Scottish Government’s new tobacco action plan needs to be ambitious, with actions taken to prevent young people from starting to smoke and more targeted support being provided for citizens aiming to stop.”
Public health minister Maree Todd said: “No Smoking Day, promoted by Ash Scotland, is a great opportunity to take the first step towards quitting and making significant improvements to your health.
“Free support and advice is available at the Quit Your Way Scotland website.
“A range of world-leading tobacco control measures have been introduced in Scotland which are steadily reducing the proportion of people smoking according to the Scottish Health Survey.
“Our goal is a tobacco-free generation of Scots by 2034 and our refreshed tobacco action plan will be published in autumn this year.”
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