The effects of smoking cost West Sussex around £196m per year, a health board has been told.
While only 12.4 per cent of the county smokes – the lowest rate since records began – there are still more than 73,000 households with at least one smoker.
A meeting of the county council’s health and wellbeing board was told on Thursday (January 24) that the habit was the highest cause of early sickness and death in the country.
And figures showing how many West Sussex women smoked during pregnancy were described as ‘stubbornly high’ in coastal areas.
The board agreed that the county’s tobacco control plan, which ended in 2018, needed to be renewed and should run from this April to March 2022.
The plan explores and tackles issues such as the health inequalities brought about by smoking.
The board was told that, once income and the cost of the habit were taken into account, almost one quarter of the West Sussex households with a smoker fell below the poverty line.
On average, smokers aged 25-34 spend £9.89 per day – £3,609.85 per year – on cigarettes, while 16-24-year-olds spend £8.17 per day – £2,982.05 per year.
If these smokers were to quit, an estimated 5,362 households would be elevated out of poverty.
Amanda Jupp, chairman of the board, said: “More and more people are turning their back on tobacco, but the prevalence rates in some areas of West Sussex continue to be high.
“This is especially apparent among manual workers.
“The effects of smoking are thought to cost West Sussex nearly £196m every year.
“This is why West Sussex Public Health is reviewing its tobacco control strategy to build on the successes of the previous strategy that ran from 2014 to 2018.
“Members will be discussing its aims further during a seminar next month.”
Once the strategy has been signed off, it will be launched at a No Smoking Day event on March 13.