Oxfordshire plans to become the first ‘smoke-free’ county in England, because local health leaders want to stop the habit by 2025.
Ansaf Azhar, director of the district health council, said the hope is that nobody will smoke cigarettes in Oxfordshire in five years.
A meeting of the Health Improvement Partnership Board of Oxfordshire heard yesterday that it would save a fortune on health care, workplace productivity, social care and even home fires.
According to charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), smoking costs the Oxfordshire economy a total of £ 121.7 million each year.
Azhar said the new plan, the Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy, meant a “step-by-step change” in how smoking was treated in the county.
Ansaf Azhar, director of public health of the district council, said the hope is that nobody will smoke cigarettes in Oxfordshire in five years
A report to the improvement committee said the government had set a goal to reduce the number of people who smoke in the UK to five percent of the population by 2030.
The board was told that this would be considered a ‘smoke-free’ society because smoking would be so rare.
The goal of Oxfordshire is to continue by 2025 and become smoke-free according to the same guidelines, making it the first county in England.
About 10 percent of the province’s population currently smokes regularly, which amounts to around 5,804 people, according to the report.
Azhar told the board that there were deep inequalities in who smoked in Oxfordshire, with the poorest communities being hit hardest by health issues and the cost of habit.
He said the new strategy had a “four-pillar” approach to reducing the number of smokers.
These continued with existing prevention work, regulating and maintaining tobacco products, creating more smoke-free environments and supporting smokers to quit.
The Health Improvement Council consists of members from the five Oxfordshire District Councils, the District Council, the Thames Valley Police and local health organizations.
Azhar said that all these public authorities should be involved to ensure that the new approach works.
A consultation on the new tobacco control strategy will be launched on 11 March, the national non-smoking day.
The chairman of the Health Improvement Council, county councilor Andrew McHugh, said there were other costs associated with smoking that were not justified.
Coun McHugh said: “There is something that I think is missing and that is crime and actually tobacco is a motor of crime.
“I am a member of the Thames Valley Police Panel and a number of smaller stores are regularly broken in and £ 3000 cigarettes stolen; Cigarettes are the ideal raw material: they are of high value and low in bulk. “
Coun McHugh added that the illegal tobacco market was another crime issue. Some stores and sellers sold contraband.
According to the report presented to the board, 2132 people died from smoking-related causes in Oxfordshire between 2012 and 2017.
A breakdown of the £ 121.7 million cost of smoking for the Oxfordshire economy includes £ 25.7 million spent on NHS care.
Another £ 7.4 million cost to the local economy comes from paying social care for those affected by smoking-related illness.
About £ 86 million in potential wealth is also lost to the local economy due to unemployed people with smoking-related illnesses, deaths related to the habit, and even work breaks that cause a loss of productivity.
It is estimated that smoking at home caused the Oxfordshire economy to cost 2.7 million pounds.
Although ASH did not estimate the cost of litter from smoking, it said that 23 tons of waste, or enough to fill 421 bins, is collected every year in the form of cigarette butts in Oxfordshire.