Alex calls for real action and investment to help people quit smoking as it emerges smoking costs the North East economy £887m a year

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham, who is also Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, has called for further action to support smoking cessation as it emerges that the economic cost of smoking to the North East is £887 million*.

New economic analysis from the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) group shows that the cost of smoking to England is around £17 billion a year – £5 billion more than previously estimated. In the North East, where there are around 326,527 smokers – 20,000 of them in Stockton on Tees – this cost is £887 million, with the bulk of costs focused on lost productivity and provision of health and social care.  

Alex has long campaigned for funding to provide effective, high quality smoking cessation services, backing recent reports** from the Long Health Taskforce which noted that 60 per cent of smokers wanted to quit but needed advice and professional help to get started.

Stockton on Tees ranks at 229 out of 317 local authorities for smoking prevalence. Local health care costs as a result of smoking amount to £9 million a year, with the average yearly spend smokers around £1,945. The overall yearly economic cost of smoking in Stockton on Tees is £62 million.

Responding to the latest figures, Alex said:

“Smoking is bad for your personal health and the health of the local economy. Many people want to quit but need meaningful support to do so – but we’re still waiting for a Tobacco Control Plan and real investment in smoking cessation services.

“If England is to be ‘smokefree’ by 2030 – an ambition set by the Government – we need to see action and investment in cessation service now, not just to reduce smoking in our communities and protect people’s health but to take pressure off our health and care services.”


* The full tool and method is here:

Area NameNumber of smokersOverall costHealthcare costsProductivity costsSocial care costsFire costs
North East326,257887.62M124.98M684.51M66.98M11.14M
Stockton on Tees20,29462.03M9.19M47.2M4.99M655.7K

**  Lung Taskforce report was launched in 2020.