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Volume 129: debated on Thursday 10 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is his estimate of the cost to the National Health Service for treating diseases caused by smoking for the most recently available 12-month period; and if he will make a statement;(2) how many days of sickness absence from work were lost in the United Kingdom for the most recent 12-month period because of diseases caused by smoking; and if he will make a statement.

The cost to the National Health Service for treating smoking-related diseases is estimated at £500 million per year.Information on working days lost due to smoking is not available in the precise form requested. The table sets out information regarding the main diseases associated with smoking, but not all illness from these diseases is caused by smoking. The statistics, which show days of certified incapacity for sickness and invalidity benefit in Great Britain, exclude periods of incapacity covered by statutory sick pay and working days lost by certain groups of workers who do not claim these benefits. They include days of incapacity for which invalidity benefit was claimed by men aged 65–69 and women aged 60–64.Together with the nearly 300 deaths per day from smoking, these figures reveal the high cost to the nation of the smoking habit which is the largest single cause of preventable death and disease in the United Kingdom.

Days of certified incapacity due to sickness and invalidity in the period 1 April 1985 to 5 April 1986: Great Britain
CausesICD1codeMillion days
Malignant neoplasm:
Trachea, bronchus and lung1620·3
Lip, oral cavity and pharynx140–1492
Diseases of the circulatory system:
Ischaemic heart disease410–41438·8
Chronic pulmonary heart disease4160·2
Aortic aneurysm4410·1
Diseases of the respiratory system:
Bronchitis and emphysema490–49217 6
Chronic airways obstruction, not elsewhere classified4964·5


1. International Classification of Diseases Ninth Revision.

2. Less than 100,000 days.