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Warning smoking forcing families further into poverty

Credit: PA

A tobacco control campaign group says smoking habits in Wales are forcing families further into poverty in Wales.

The average smoker in Wales spends more than £160 a month on tobacco, with 20-a-day smokers spending £4,000 a year to fund their habit.

Nearly of quarter of people in Wales live in poverty and are the most likely to smoke - 28% of those in the most deprived areas are smokers compared to 13% in the most affluent parts of the country.

More than 40% of those who are unemployed are also smokers despite increased tobacco legislation.

Meanwhile 43% of unemployed people in Wales smoke - a figure that has risen in the past decade despite increased tobacco control legislation.

43%
of those who are unemployed are smokers.
28%
of those living on the breadline across the UK would be lifted out of poverty if they gave up.

ASH Wales say targeted support in the most deprived areas is needed:

Nicotine addiction places a huge financial burden on smokers and it is the most deprived members of our community that are hit the hardest. The high cost of tobacco combined with the power of nicotine addiction means many smokers will prioritise fags over food or fuel or allow their debts to spiral.

This has a devastating impact on the health and well-being of them and their families, and is a particular concern given the challenges many are facing since the introduction of Universal Credit. It is important to emphasise that smoking is an addiction not a lifestyle choice and what is needed is targeted smoking cessation support for those in our most deprived communities who are desperate for help to quit the habit.

– Suzanne Cass, CEO ASH Wales

The lowest rate of smoking is in Monmouthshire at 13% compared to the highest in Neath Port Talbot at 25%.

The situation shows no sign of changing with the gap in smoking prevalence between Wales' most deprived and least deprived areas having barely fallen in the past decade.

The Welsh Government acknowledged more work needs to be done despite £200,000 funding towards support services:

We have a range of high quality and evidence based smoking cessation support services in Wales under the Help Me Quit brand run by Public Health Wales. Marketing of the Help Me Quit services during 2018 was enhanced by an additional £200,000 from Welsh Government. It's encouraging that we continue to see thousands of people using the service, and successfully quitting, but clearly there is more work to be done.

– Welsh Government

Cessation services offer behavioural support combined with appropriate medication or nicotine replacement therapy.

The success rate of such an approach is believed to be 4 times greater than that from an unaided quit attempt.