Smoking-related hospital admissions increased in England in 2022/23

Smoking-related hospital admissions increased in England in 2022/23 compared to the previous year, recently-published NHS England data shows.

NHS England recorded 408,700 hospital admissions due to smoking in 2022/23 compared to 389,800 in 2021/22, although this should be put in perspective with higher numbers of NHS hospital admissions broadly speaking.

This came after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced in November that anyone 14 or younger would be banned from ever legally buying cigarettes as part of a wider plan to reduce adult smoking prevalence in England to 5% or less by 2030.

NHS NW London Prevention and Healthy Living Lead Hilary Tovey said: “The government has got this ambition of reducing adult smoking prevalence to 5% or less by 2030 which I think is great but also really ambitious, partly because we know that the rates of stopping smoking are declining and also that many people are still smoking. 

“In north west London for example we still do have real pockets of people who continue to smoke a lot and they are usually people who needed extra support and extra help to quit. 

“Smoking continues to be the greatest cause of disease and death in north west London.

“We’re still fighting because tobacco is incredibly addictive.

“The war is certainly not won, we can’t rest on our laurels just yet.”

The Government announced in October last year a new funding programme aimed at tackling smoking locally by providing £70 million additional funding per year for local stop smoking services and support.

This more than doubles the current funding of local stop smoking services through the public health grant.

Tovey said: “The investment in stop smoking services in local authorities is very welcomed because it gives us the opportunity to have another big push against smoking, especially if it’s combined with government policies aimed at tackling smoking especially for young people.”

NHS England data also show that 8% of hospital admissions for cancers in 2022-23 were attributable to smoking, and that 16% of hospital admissions for respiratory diseases over the same period were due to smoking. 

Ethan Finley, 32, who had been smoking for four years before going to hospital last year and being diagnosed with a severe respiratory disease, said: “When I was diagnosed with severe asthma it was definitely a bit of a shock.

“I was diagnosed with mild asthma when I was little but I don’t have any history of asthma or any respiratory disease running in my family and apart from smoking I did have a pretty healthy lifestyle including eating well and running a lot.

“I was told smoking was very probably the cause of the worsening of my asthma.

“Since being diagnosed with severe asthma last year I’ve had to go to A&E twice for life-threatening asthma attacks.”

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