Smokers require social care a DECADE before never-smokers

Smokers require social care a DECADE before people who have never taken up the habit with most needing help to get dressed, eat or wash at just 62

  • Action on Smoking and Health looked at English Longitudinal Study of Ageing
  • Nearly a quarter of smokers over 50 who need care cannot do basic functions
  • These include eating, washing, using the toilet and generally getting about

Smokers typically require social care a decade before people who have never taken up the habit, research suggests.

A report by the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has revealed smokers typically need care when they are 62.

In contrast, adults who have never taken up the deadly habit make it 72 before they require support, on average. 

ASH stresses this is costing local authorities hundreds of millions a year, which could be avoided if people quit the habit at a younger age.

The report comes amid the UK’s social care crisis, with campaigners claiming that services have ‘completely broken down’ in some areas.

Smokers typically require social care at just 62, research suggests (stock)

Some pensioners have been forced to sell their homes to pay bills topping hundreds of pounds each week to stay at care homes.

The ASH report also found that ex-smokers who quit within the last decade typically require help at 69. 

Ciaran Osborne, director of policy at ASH, said: ‘Disease and disability caused by smoking leads people to need social care a whole decade sooner than if they had never smoked.

‘Not only is this severely detrimental to their quality of life, it also puts avoidable strains on England’s creaking social care system.’ 

ASH analysed the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing for the report, which was called ‘Social care costs: Going up in smoke’.

The report also found 670,000 people over 50 in England have ‘care needs’ as a result of smoking.

Of which, nearly a quarter (23.5 per cent) require assistance with at least one of six ‘daily living activities’.


Middle classes face a stealth tax on their care home bills, a report has revealed. 

Age UK found those who fund their own care home fees are paying 41 per cent more than councils fork out for those who get free places.

This premium costs middle-class families an extra £238 ($292) a week, or £12,000 ($14,761) a year.

The Daily Mail has been highlighting the scandal of England’s broken care system, which sees people having to pay the full cost of their care down to their last £23,250 ($28,603) – including the value of the family home. 

Those who have not carefully put away money get free care courtesy of their local council.

The crisis has been worsened by some areas losing more than half of their nursing home beds in the past two years.

And a desperate shortage of home-helps means the total amount of home care delivered has plummeted by three million hours in three years.

These are made up of eating, washing, dressing, grooming, using the toilet and getting about.

This is compared to just 12.1 per cent of non-smokers over 50 who need social care, according to the report.

More than half (55 per cent) of the 670,000 adults receive the support they need, however, the needs of the remaining 300,000 go unmet, the report found.

In terms of expense, smoking-related care was found to set local authorities back £720million a year ($886.2million).

Even among smokers who pay for their own care, authorities still fork out £160million a year ($196.9million).

Informal carers, friends and relatives, who help out without being paid, provide care to 345,000 smokers.

If this service was provided by paid carers, it would cost an additional £10.6billion ($13billion), according to ASH.

Smokers who quit by 30 typically avoid most of its long-term health consequences, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Smoking is known to lead to multiple types of cancer, as well as heart disease and lung conditions.  

Smoking killed 78,000 people last year in England alone, NHS statistics show. 

And for every smoker that dies due to the habit, at least 30 live with a serious illness, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. 

ASH is calling on local authorities to promote stop-smoking programmes once a year, as well as to provide a diverse range of support. 

It also wants the Government to introduce a ‘polluter pays’ charge on tobacco manufacturers to fund anti-smoking campaigns and support for smokers to quit. 

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