Wirral Council reveals residents spent almost £54m on smoking per year - including vapes

Wirral Council aims to eradicate smoking among young people by 2027 and all adults by 2030.

People are spending nearly £54m every year in Wirral on tobacco products, costing local NHS services more than £15m.

Statistics in a recent Wirral Council report said smoking was “the biggest cause of preventable ill health” in the area and “drives people deeper into poverty” with an estimated 1,386 deaths every year.

While fewer people smoke in Wirral than the national average, there are huge differences between different areas. Only 6.7% of people in wealthier areas smoke but this is 30% higher in less well off areas.

Wirral Council aims to eradicate smoking among young people by 2027 and all adults by 2030. The report said: “Smoking continues to pull our most disadvantaged communities further into poverty by costing them billions each year.”

It also warned there is “no one magic bullet” to tackle the complex issue arguing that “comprehensive, multi-pronged tobacco control approaches are needed to achieve success.”

Earlier this year, the council’s stop smoking service was ranked one of the best in the country but Cllr Yvonne Nolan, who chairs the local authority’s health committee, said she was concerned teens were being targeted.

She said: “My big worry is that these vapes are being targeted at young people. I was watching BBC North West and the kids on there thought it was cool. People are getting started on them.

The council estimates that the cost of smoking to wider society in Wirral is £69.5m every year with a nearly £6m annual bill for hospital admissions. In 2019, there were 2,899 smoking-related hospital admissions and cancer, linked to smoking, is the leading cause of death in Wirral according to the report.

People who smoke are 36% more likely to end up in hospital and been in social care ten years before they should, the report said.

The report comes after the government commissioned an independent review by Dr Javed Khan OBE of the government’s ambition to make England smoke free by 2030.

It asks the government to invest £125m every year in programmes which would be funded by a tax on tobacco companies. Other proposals included raising the age someone could buy cigarettes by one year every year, a policy New Zealand recently introduced.

The council will now update its plan to tackle nicotine and smoking problems using this review.