Over a quarter of smoking households in East of England are living in poverty

The Harlow shop was raided a total of three times by Trading Standards and Saiwan Ali was caught on

According to new research from ASH, there are 103,000 smokers living in poverty in the East of England - Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

New analysis of national data has found that the number of smokers living in poverty is over 100,000 in the East of England.

The data, published by charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), shows that in the East of England 26% of households containing smokers live in poverty once spending on smoking is accounted for. In England as a whole the figure is 31%.

According to the Stop Smoking team at OneLife Suffolk, on average most people who quit smoking save around £250 per month.

The team provide a stop smoking service, which is accessible to anyone who has smoked a tobacco product in the last 48 hours and is 12 years old and above.

Their practitioners offer a 12-week support programme which includes Carbon Monoxide monitoring, access to treatments and a direct supply of Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

A spokesperson for the charity spoke about some of the impacts caused by pregnant women who smoke, an area in which they provide a lot help.

They said: "Every cigarette smoked contains over 4,000 chemicals, so smoking when you are pregnant can be harmful to a mother and to their unborn baby. Cigarettes can restrict the essential oxygen supply to a baby which can hinder their development.

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"Each inhalation on a cigarette starves baby of 15 seconds of oxygen.

"You are three times more likely to stop smoking with our support!

"Our support is free anyone wishing to stop please contact us on 01473 718193 or visit our website www.onelifesuffolk.co.uk."

Andrew Reid, cabinet member for public health, public protection and communities at Suffolk County C

Andrew Reid, cabinet member for public health, public protection and communities at Suffolk County Council - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Suffolk County Council commissions OneLife Suffolk. Andrew Reid, cabinet member for public health, public protection and communities, said: “Smoking is one of the largest preventable causes of inequalities both nationally and here in Suffolk.

“Suffolk County Council is committed to supporting residents to quit smoking and commissions a number of targeted interventions to support the most vulnerable to the health and financial risks of smoking, to quit for good. 

“We are working with housing association partners on initiatives which will support those in social housing to quit smoking, as well as with health care partners to enable every smoker who is admitted to hospital to automatically receive support and medication to quit smoking."

Strong links between smoking and disadvantage have been well recorded before, but this new analysis highlights how the impact of smoking on local communities is compounded in regions where household incomes are also lower.

The data also showed that households where people smoke are poorer because of an addiction which usually started in childhood.

Maggie Throup MP

Maggie Throup MP, parliamentary under-secretary of state for vaccines and public health - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

“Smoking has a disproportionate impact on poorer communities across the country and we’re absolutely determined to hit our ambition for England to be smoke free by 2030," said public health minister Maggie Throup.

On average it takes 30 attempts before a smoker successfully stops for good.

Importantly, people living with social and economic hardship tend to be more addicted, and find it harder to quit, although they try just as often.

The findings also showed that the average smoker is spending just under £2,000 a year on tobacco costing England smokers a total of £12billion.


Giving up smoking can save thousands of pounds a year - Credit: Maksim Goncharenok/Pexels

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Smoking is the single largest driver of health inequalities in England and it is shocking that it’s contributing to more than two million adults living in poverty, concentrated in the most disadvantaged regions in the country.

“Behind every statistic is a human being. A real person, threatened by the debilitating health effects of smoking, and significantly poorer because of an addiction that started in childhood.

“We look forward to the forthcoming Tobacco Control Plan to achieve the Government’s smoke-free 2030 ambition. This will play a key role in delivering the 2030 targets to narrow the gap in life expectancy, wellbeing and productivity between the top performing and other areas set out in the Levelling Up White Paper."

According to ASH smokers’ employment chances and average earnings are also damaged by smoking creating further hardship for people, especially those who have to give up working due to smoking-related ill health.

In the East of England, the charity said 24,169 people are economically inactive due to smoking and smokers earn 6.8% less than non-smokers.