TENS of millions of pounds is lost in a puff of smoke each year across Dorset, according to a new report.

A shocking new report released by campaign group Action on Smoking and Health has revealed that more than £82.3m is the total financial impact that smoking has on the region’s economy as well as the amount spent on health treatment for smokers.

The report noted that 603 early deaths were caused by smoking in the county costing and other related illnesses as well as absenteeism and smoking breaks which cost £45m.

There was also a shocking £24.9m bill to the NHS from over 217,866 million GP consultations, more than 51,859 hospital admissions and outpatient visits, and 121,886 GP prescriptions every year directly linked to the habit.

Local authorities are also forced to foot a large bill in social care as many current and former smokers requiring care in later life as a result of smoking-related illnesses.

Dorset County Council, Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole council paid an additional £6.3m a year to fund social care, as well as individuals and families paying out £5.3m a year to fund their own social care.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service also felt the heavy cost as the report revealed that they attend seven smoking related house fires every year.

A 2016 audit by the British Thoracic Society found that more than one in four hospital patients were not asked if they smoke and 50 per cent of frontline staff were not given routine smoking cessation training.

Public health charity ASH and Fresh argue that the tobacco industry should be forced to pay to address the harm it causes in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

A spokesman for ASH added: “Given the enormous burden tobacco places on society, ASH argue that the tobacco industry should be forced to pay to address the harm it causes in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

“We are calling on the Government to place a levy on the tobacco industry with the money raised used to fund support for the recurring costs of tobacco control measures to reduce smoking prevalence, such as mass media campaigns, cessation services and local authority enforcement to prevent illicit trade and underage sales.”

Stuart Burley, head of public health programmes in Dorset, said: “Supporting people to look after their health and well-being is a key priority for local public services.

“We work with a range of partners to promote and support people to make healthy lifestyle choices and lead active lives.”

“We know that helping people to stay healthier for longer has a positive impact on our economy.

“There are a number of initiatives including LiveWell Dorset which gives people access to free advice and support including help to stop smoking.”

Dr Robert Allcock, clinical lead for health informatics at Gateshead Health NHS foundation trust who is supporting ASH’s calls to introduce a levy said that the impact smoking has on the county was “shocking”.

He added: “Every time someone smokes a cigarette, they inhale tar and poisons which damage the lungs, and which enter the bloodstream to cause further damage to the heart, the brain, and all the major organs of the body.

“The poisons from cigarettes cause permanent damage to DNA and increase the risk of cancer.

“I see the harm from smoking in my clinics every week.

“Smoking is still the biggest issue that dominates my job and the job of my colleagues, and it dominates the experiences of too many of our patients.

“The burden of illness and suffering that people endure as a result of tobacco remains enormous.

“As a doctor one of the hardest things I do is to explain to someone that they have lung cancer caused by their smoking. “It’s the moment when a person realises that this thing that’s been a normal part of their life for as long as they can remember is also the thing that means they are unlikely to be alive in 1 or 2 years’ time.

“It’s a horrible thing to see; a look of sadness and regret.”