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Public want smokers to pay for their own NHS health care

(Sean Dempsey/PA Wire)
(Sean Dempsey/PA Wire)

NEARLY two-thirds of people believe heavy smokers should cough up extra money for their healthcare.

A new YouGov survey of more than 2000 people revealed 62% believed the NHS should not bear the full cost of treating the self-inflicted damage done by smoking.

John Quail, managing director of, which commissioned the research, believes the results are indicative of the public’s protective stance on the NHS.

He said: “Despite the fact that the tax on cigarettes theoretically creates more than enough revenue to pay for the healthcare costs generated by smoking, the British public still believes smokers should be held individually accountable for their habit.”

The UK Government wants to drastically cut the number of nine million British smokers.

New legislation was introduced last month to bring in plain packaging and an extra 16.5% has been put on top of cigarette VAT charges – generating an extra
£12 billion for the Exchequer.

But despite this, most Brits believe those who smoke should take more responsibility for their own healthcare, according to the results of the YouGov poll.

Almost two out of three people surveyed believe smokers should contribute to the estimated £3.2 billion cost to the NHS. That figure rises to 73% of 25 to 34-year-olds.

Only a third of those who took part believed smokers should not pay extra for treatment.

Fewer than half (43%) would sue their GP for negligence if they developed a smoking-related illness, reflecting “public attitudes on personal responsibility,” according to the survey’s authors.

However, Shelia Duffy, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health Scotland, said smokers should “absolutely not” be penalised for being addicted.

“Tobacco companies are using their customers as a human shields,” she said.

“Most adult smokers start as kids and were drawn in by tobacco companies advertising their glitzy products. They are hooked on them before they know what’s happening.

“The companies make obscene profits from their customers and we should be demanding money from them, not from the people who are hooked on these products.”


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