Over half a million social housing tenants are living in poverty due to the cost of smoking, anti-smoking campaigners say.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has urged social landlords to provide additional support to tenants to help them stop smoking.
One in seven (512,000) social tenants are living in poverty because of the impact of smoking costs on their disposable income, the campaign group argues.
A third of those living in social housing smoke, which is twice the national average. On average, tobacco costs these tenants £2,600 per year – over £50 per week.
Around 28% of social tenants are currently in rent arrears. ASH argues that for those who smoke, quitting would allow their rent arrears to be cleared in an average of nine weeks.
ASH is urging social landlords to support their tenants by providing information and advice on the financial gains of quitting or cutting down.
Social landlords could also collaborate with local NHS and public health teams to ensure tenants are aware of available stop smoking support.
‘Stopping smoking has enormous health benefits but also dramatically improves tenants’ and landlords’ finances,’ said Ciaran Osborne, director of policy at ASH.
‘Most social housing tenants want to quit smoking and doing so can help them climb out of rent arrears and debt.
‘If social landlords take a more proactive approach to supporting their tenants to quit, everyone benefits except the tobacco industry.’