Toxic Tax: Over half of Brits think smokers should pay increased tax due to the increased burden smoking places on the NHS, survey discovers

As most people know, smoking is a harmful habit that not only causes damages to the smoker themselves, but to those around them too.

Oftentimes, this toxic habit can cause a negative impact on the health system as well if the smoker has related illnesses or diseases.

Despite a continual decline in the prevalence of cigarette smoking across the UK, more than 1 in 10 (13.9%) still continued this habit as statistics from 2019 show, which equates to over 6 million people.

From 2019 to 2020, there were an estimated over 500,000 hospital admissions across England that were smoking-related, which equates to around 1,400 of these admissions every day. It was also found that smokers see their GP or family doctor more than a third (35%) more often than non-smokers.

But when it comes to quitting, it’s often not as simple as just stopping smoking cold turkey as cigarette smokers sometimes suffer from tobacco dependence, therefore, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. E-cigarettes are commonly used devices among smokers to help aid the process of quitting and in fact, a review found that e-cigarettes containing nicotine are about twice as effective  in helping smokers quit, as compared to other methods like gum and patches. conducted a survey of 600 Brits to determine how they feel about tax costs in relation to smoking and healthcare. This survey uncovered that more than half (56%) of respondents said people who smoke should pay more tax due to the increased burden smoking places on the NHS and other healthcare aids, like clinics. Additionally, 56% of people felt that smoking should be made illegal, considering the immense burden that it places on the NHS in the UK.

Not only does cigarette smoking affect the individual, but those around them as well. More than half (59%) of people said they weren’t aware that the cost of smoking to the UK government is approximately £12.6 billion a year.

This includes smokers directly, as well as those around them who have to inhale these chemicals non-voluntarily when people smoke cigarettes in public spaces. Second-hand smoke emerges from the top of a lit cigarette, as well as the smoke exhaled.

Passive smoking, or inhaling this second-hand smoke, increases the risk of non-smokers of getting the same kinds of smoke-related health conditions. Young children and babies are especially vulnerable to the effects of passive smoke and exposure causes an increased risk of chest infections, asthma and persistent cough.

And it seems some feel so strongly about these side effects that 40% of respondents said they don’t think anti-smoking laws are tough enough in the UK, and that they should be stricter.

Of course, it may be said that smokers contribute a significant amount in tax due to the high cost of cigarettes. In fact, the last tax hike in the UK saw the price of the most expensive cigarettes doubling when compared to their cost ten years ago.

However, with the common occurrence of smoking-related illness and diseases, should it be implemented that cigarette smokers pay an increased tax value due to how frequently they utilize NHS services?

Speaking of the health industry, nearly 3 in 4 (73%) of people believe health authorities are not doing enough to encourage smokers to quit cigarettes by switching over to vaping. Of course, it’s not the duty of healthcare workers to convince smokers to quit, however, it’s important that they advise on the best decisions to help positively impact peoples’ health.

And when it comes to ways of quitting, a significant number of people (25%) said vaping is the best way for a person to quit smoking cigarettes. It could be because of the fact that vaping somewhat replaces the habit in a less harmful way by still allowing the individual to partake in such a regular habit More than a third (37%) said the best way to quit is nicotine replacement therapy.

Twenty-three percent of people thought the best method of quitting was simply stopping smoking cold turkey and 15% of people said using mindfulness and hypnotherapy techniques are likely the best way to quit.