Quitting smoking would lift 2659 people in Somerset out of poverty

Somerset County Council supports a report published today from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) which shows for the first time how significant a factor smoking is in driving poverty in our communities. The figures show that of the 51,000 households in Somerset that include an adult smoker 11,000 (22%) are below the poverty line.

An estimated 2659 households could be lifted out of poverty if they quit smoking. These households comprise of 6239 adults below pension age, 2188 children and 2259 pensioners. On average households that include a smoker spend £2,158 a year on tobacco. [2]

The figures are published today alongside a health inequalities toolkit advising local authorities and the NHS
on how to reduce smoking rates among those experiencing health inequalities. [3]

Most people start smoking as teenagers and after a year of smoking 85% say they would find it difficult to quit [4].  Smokers often try to quit many times before they are successful but those from disadvantaged backgrounds face particular barriers as they are more likely to be highly addicted and to live in communities where smoking rates are high [5]. These smokers often need more support than others to successfully quit.

Somerset County Council Cabinet member for public health, Cllr Anna Groskop said, “For the first time these figures show just how significant a factor smoking is in driving poverty in our communities. Quitting smoking effectively provides a major boost to household income, reducing the burden of poverty on children and families.  I would urge anyone who wants to quit smoking and gain these major financial benefits to contact Smokefreelife Somerset for free professional support, because they are many times more likely to succeed with that support.”

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For more information contact the Somerset County Council Press Office on 01823 355020 or email

Notes to Editors

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) was established in 1971 by the Royal College of Physicians. It is a campaigning public health charity that works to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco.

[1] The figures in this report are based on a smoking and poverty calculator which has been produced by Adam Lester George from Lelan Solutions. The calculator will be available online from 28th October. The information in the report synthesises data based on analysis by Howard Reed for Landman Economics for ASH, entitled “Estimates of poverty in the UK adjusted for expenditure on tobacco”, May 2015. The definition of poverty used is income below 60 percent of median household net income, adjusted for family size). The full report can be downloaded here:

[2] Estimates of poverty in the UK adjusted for expenditure on tobacco”, May 2015.

[3] The Health Inequalities Resource Pack will be available online from 28th October.

[4] Smoking drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2014. Health & Social Care Information Centre, 2015.

[5] 2013 Opinions & Lifestyle Survey. Office for National Statistics, Nov. 2014

[6] Smokefreelife Somerset, the stop smoking service commissioned by the Council can be contacted on 0800 246 1063 or 01823 765006.