Smoking costs Hartlepool more than £22million a year through NHS costs, sick days and even smoking breaks, according to new analysis.
Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), a leading anti-smoking charity, has calculated how much tobacco costs society.
It has compared a variety of publicly available data, such as smoking prevalence, mortality and hospital admissions.
The latest complete figures show 20% of people smoked in Hartlepool in 2016, higher than the England average of 16%.
Ash’s study estimates smoking costs Hartlepool’s economy £14million a year, due to lost working days.
The charity has calculated how much income has been lost by people who die before retirement age, where smoking is a factor.
The analysis also accounts for time lost due to smoking breaks, and smoking related sick days.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), smokers suffer on average 2.74 additional sick days a year compared with non-smokers.
The research also found smoking costs the NHS in Hartlepool £5million a year, based on smoking-related hospital admissions and the cost of patients.
Deborah Arnott, Ash chief executive, said: “Our tool shows just how significant the financial impact of smoking is at local level and makes the case for local authorities to invest in measures to discourage young people from taking up smoking and motivate adult smokers to quit.
“However, cuts to public health budgets mean that many local authorities no longer have the resources they need to invest in driving down smoking rates, this is a false economy that is damaging our local communities.”
Ash also judged the impact on social care in Hartlepool, with a cost of £3.4million a year for public and private providers.
Roughly half of the money spent on cigarettes goes to the Government from tobacco tax.
However, charities such as Ash and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) are calling on the Government to force tobacco companies to pay an additional levy which would go directly towards stop smoking services.
Simon Gillespie, chief executive of BHF, said: “Smoking kills over 16,000 people in England every year from heart disease.
“It is vital that tobacco control is properly funded, giving smokers the best chance to quit and preventing people from taking up smoking.
“A levy on tobacco companies would ensure there is sustained funding for tobacco control thus crucially help to drive down smoking rates.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Smoking kills – that’s why we’ve taken bold action to reduce smoking and protect the public – including introducing standardised packaging for cigarettes, covering up tobacco products in shops and making it illegal to smoke in a car with a child.
“There are now fewer smokers in this country than ever before, but we are determined to reduce these rates even further.”