Is it Time for Smokers to Cough Up on NHS Bills?

Is it Time for Smokers to Cough Up on NHS Bills?
24th June 2016 James Brooke

Is it Time for Smokers to Cough Up on NHS Bills?

Majority of Brits say smokers should pay extra for healthcare but majority do not agree in claiming for medical negligence.

New YouGov research commissioned by reports that the majority of Brits believe heavy smokers should pay extra for their healthcare. Of those surveyed, 62 per cent of respondents said that smokers should pay extra for their healthcare, and of those aged 25-34, 73 per cent supported the case for smokers paying extra.

The Government is keen to drastically reduce the number of smokers in the UK, having introduced a new legislation relating to cigarette packaging on 21 May this year, and putting an additional 16.5 per cent charge on top of VAT on cigarettes – substantially more than our European neighbours. Despite this, the majority of the nation believes more responsibility should be taken by those who smoke to help fund the costs of smokers to the NHS. According to independent fact checking charity Full Fact, the tax on cigarettes brings in £12 billion in direct tax revenues. It is estimated that the cost of smoking to the NHS is £3.2 billion.

John Quail, managing director of, who commissioned the research, believes that the results are indicative of the British public’s protective nature towards the NHS and reflects public attitudes on personal responsibility and accountability. “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 that smokers should be held individually accountable for their habit. However, the survey results also reveal that the public don’t seem to feel the same way about making their local GP surgeries more accountable.”

The survey showed that less than half of Brits (43 per cent) would be likely to make a compensation claim against their local GP surgery if they received negligent treatment. “The public are quick to make smokers accountable for their healthcare costs; it’s now time to start applying that same logic to making compensation claims in the event of medical negligence. Making a claim is often necessary for support if you are unable to work, or to help towards additional healthcare costs. Those who have been a victim of medical negligence should feel confident in holding healthcare institutions accountable – in the same way that many want to hold smokers accountable.”


Notes to Editors:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2147 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29 – 31 December 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Of the 2147 surveyed:

  • 62 per cent supported the idea of heavy smokers paying extra for their healthcare
  • 30 per cent opposed the idea of heavy smokers paying extra for their healthcare
  • 73 per cent 25-34 year olds supported the idea of heavy smokers paying extra for their healthcare
  • 43 per cent would be likely to make a financial compensation claim if they received negligent treatment that resulted in physical/mental duress or financial cost from their local GP.

Photograph & Caption:
John Quail, Managing Director of

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