SMOKERS in Sheffield are off sick eight days more than other workers every year - costing employers more than £30 million annually.
The shocking statistics, revealed by Sheffield health experts, also say workers’ cigarette breaks are hitting the economy to the tune of £35.9m.
And with the health effects of cigarettes costing the NHS £27m of treatment each year, smoking is costing Sheffield’s economy a total of £93.8m.
Despite years of public health education programmes, more than one in five adults in Sheffield, some 21.5 per cent, still smoke, above the national average of 20.7 per cent.
Even pregnant mothers are refusing to give up the habit - with more than one in seven smoking throughout pregnancy, putting their babies’ lives at risk, the figures reveal.
Health bosses said today there is a wealth of services available to help people quit - but warned tobacco is a powerful addiction that is hitting people’s health.
It is the city’s greatest single cause of preventable illness and early death, killing hundreds of people a year.
Sheffield business leaders said it was clear that smoking was having an impact on companies.
Neville Martin, The Federation of Small Businesses’ development manager for South Yorkshire, said: “Wherever you go these days, you see people standing outside buildings having a crafty fag. All those hours stood outside tot up pretty quickly, which will ultimately hit the bottom line for all companies.
“Undoubtedly we would be a more prosperous and healthy nation if fewer people smoked.”
Employment law expert Diarmuid Deeney, a partner at Sheffield firm Kennedys, said in some workplaces people are still smoking indoors, five years after the Government banned it.
“I have come across several cases where people are smoking in warehouses and factory shop floors,” he said.
“My advice to employers is to make sure you apply your policies strictly - because if someone contracts a disease because of smoking, you could find yourself liable.”
The report, written by NHS Sheffield’s Tobacco Control Manager Lynsey Bowker, public health consultant Sheila Paul, and Sheffield Council head of environmental regulation Ian Ashmore, says the NHS is trying to reduce the number of smokers to 18.5 per cent in the next three years.
Their report says: “Achieving this ambitious target requires a comprehensive tobacco control strategy including not only clinical interventions - such as effective stop smoking support for patients - but also economic, legislative and environmental action.”
They recommend a six-strand approach to reducing smoking - stopping the promotion of tobacco, increasing the price of cigarettes, enforcing tobacco laws such as the age of sale, helping smokers quit, reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, and effectively communicating non-smoking messages.
The council’s healthier communities and adult social care scrutiny board will discuss the report on Monday.
Ms Paul said: “The cost to society of smoking, including the cost to the health service, is significant.
“Rates of smoking have come down - the messages are hitting home.
“But smoking is an addiction and we know it is hard to quit, so we have a range of services to help people.”
Claire Holden, manager of the Sheffield Stop Smoking Service on Charles Street, Sheffield city centre, said: “The economic impact is not surprising, given the number of people who do smoke in Sheffield.
“We know about the impact on the NHS, but it’s easy to forget there is an impact on businesses as well.”
Sheffield Council and NHS Sheffield are trying to tackle the impact of smoking on employers by offering a free Workplace Stop Smoking Scheme, in which an adviser comes into offices and factories to offer advice and workshops.
Ms Holden said: “Businesses realise there is a cost impact of smoking and have been really receptive to helping staff quit.”
MORE than one in seven mothers in Sheffield are still smoking throughout pregnancy - risking a range of health problems to their children.
Some 14.8 per cent of mothers who gave birth in the city between April and October last year smoked until the delivery - above the national average of 13.4 per cent.
The Sheffield numbers have risen over the last two years, up from 13.8 per cent in 2010/11 and 13.6 per cent in 2009/10.
A report to be considered by councillors next week said: “Smoking during pregnancy harms not only the mother but the unborn child and increases the risk of a range of conditions including low birth weight, still birth, miscarriage, asthma and sudden infant death.
“Helping pregnant women who smoke to quit involves communicating in a sensitive client-centred manner, particularly as some pregnant women find it difficult to say that they smoke.
“It is important to ensure stop smoking services are available, accessible and responsive to the needs of pregnant women and their families are support to stop smoking.”
Claire Holden, manager of the Sheffield Stop Smoking Service on Charles Street said the Jessop Wing maternity unit employs three midwives whose sole job is to help pregnant women stop smoking.
She said: “We will see anybody who wants to stop smoking, but we will asses their motivation and see if they are really ready.
“We are not a judgemental service - we will tell people how they can stop if they are ready for it.”
HOW TO GET HELP TO QUIT SMOKING
n Visit one of the stop smoking services which run across Sheffield - go to www.sheffieldstopsmoking.org.uk for details;
n Ring the Stop Smoking freephone helpline on 0800 068 4490 - calls are answered Mondays to Fridays, from 9am to 5pm;
n Visit an adviser at the Sheffield Quit Stop, 39 Charles Street, Sheffield. The Quit Stop is open six days per week, including until 7pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9.30am to 12.30pm;
n Services are also provided in GP surgeries, pharmacies, dental surgeries and community venues. See the above website for details;
n For help with stopping smoking during pregnancy, specialist midwives are available to support women and their families. Ask your midwife or call the stop smoking service on 0800 068 4490.
n For information about the free Workplace Stop Smoking Scheme, call Lucy Ball on 0114 2734616 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
SMOKING IN NUMBERS
21.5 per cent of adults in Sheffield smoke
87 per cent of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking
86 per cent of chronic obstructive lung disease deaths are caused by smoking
33 per cent of deaths by ischaemic heart disease are caused by smoking
DO YOU WANT TO QUIT?
Samantha Bennett, aged 25, from Gleadless: “I’ve been smoking for 10 years. I started when I was at school, all my friends and my parents smoked.
“I do want to stop eventually, but not yet. I will give up when I have children.”
Katrina Smith, aged 32, from Strocksbridge: “I started smoking when I was eight. I will quit when my two boys, who are 14 and nine, leave home, they would drive me mad otherwise.
“I’ve not tried to stop - I don’t want to stop yet. I started because all my friends did - I thought it made me look good, but it doesn’t.”
Marie Prtichard, aged 21, from Pitsmoor: “I used to smoke 10 to 15 a day, but I gave up a year-and-a-half ago. I just stopped - I didn’t use patches or anything.
“I thought to myself that I was cutting years off my life and I got a wheezy cough from it. I hated stinking like an ashtray.”
Fernando Bento, aged 22, from Page Hall: “I’ve been smoking since I was 14. I’ve tried to quit twice. Once I managed it for three months, then started again.
“I used patches and they worked quite well for me. I would like to stop if I could.”