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Smoking-Related Ills Cost U.K. 5.5 Percent of Health Budget

National Health Service spends £5.2 billion a year treating smokers

WEDNESDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking-related illnesses cost Great Britain's National Health Service (NHS) £5.2 billion a year, accounting for 5.5 percent of the NHS's total budget, according to a study published online June 9 in Tobacco Control.

Steven Allender, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom analyzed data from the NHS and the World Health Organization's Global Burden of Disease project to estimate the direct financial cost of smoking and compared the results with data from previous studies.

In 1991, the estimated financial burden of smoking on the NHS was £1.4 billion to £1.7 billion, but the investigators estimated that from 2005 to 2006, the actual burden was £5.2 billion. Smoking was estimated to have caused over 100,000 deaths a year over the last decade and in 2002 accounted for 12 percent of disability adjusted life years lost, the researchers found.

"Previous work using the methods used here has estimated 2002 costs due to poor diets in the United Kingdom to be £6 billion, overweight and obesity to be £3 billion and physical inactivity to be £1 billion," the authors write. "This study enables a comparison to be made between the direct cost of smoking to the NHS and other disease risk factors. This comparison should help policymakers prioritize public health interventions and make effective use of limited NHS resources."

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