More people in Lancashire went to hospital as a result of smoking last year.
Charity Action on Smoking and Health says the increase in smoking-related hospital admissions places a “real burden” on the NHS, and calls on the Government to do more to help smokers.
Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, has previously warned that smokers are also at greater risk from coronavirus.
Data from Public Health England shows there were 13,343 admissions to hospital attributable to smoking in Lancashire in 2018-19 – a six per cent rise on the year before. Over the 11-year period, 129,000 people were hospitalised.
The figures only include admissions for diseases that are wholly or partially attributed to smoking for people over 35. They suggest that 1.8 per cent of over-35s in Lancashire were admitted to hospital because of smoking last year.
Almost a quarter of English local authorities set a record for smoking-related hospital admissions last year, with around half a million admissions nationally. It was a rise of seven per cent on the year before, and the first increase since 2015-16.
Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health said: “Most smokers start smoking as children and try many times to quit. Smokers are more likely to get sick, develop complications and take longer to recover than non-smokers.
“This places a real burden on the NHS. Government has pledged to do more to help smokers in the NHS which is welcome. But more action is needed to achieve Government’s vision of smoking rates of five per cent or less by 2030.
“We are calling for a Smokefree 2030 Fund to make the high-profit tobacco industry pay for the damage it does.”
Advice from Public Health England says that high rates of smoking attributable admissions are indicative of poor population health and high smoking prevalence.
Speaking to MPs at a Commons Health and Social Care Committee earlier this month, Professor Whitty said smokers shouldn’t behave any differently to others in terms of self-isolation for coronavirus, but this was a very good moment to quit.
He added: “For most respiratory infections, you worry about people who smoke a bit more. They’re more likely to get it and their immune system is less good.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Robust government action, like the introduction of plain packaging and awareness campaigns, has brought smoking rates down to record low levels and our ambition is to become a smoke-free society by 2030.
“Prevention remains at the heart of our NHS Long Term Plan, and this year we have made £3bn of funding available to support local authorities, including stop-smoking services.”