PEOPLE living in Scotland's most deprived areas are spending £1.3million on cigarettes EVERY day. Official figures obtained by the Sunday Mail reveal it is the poorest people who can least afford it who spend the most on tobacco. Richer smokers with money to burn buy fewer cigarettes and more of them appear to be giving up.
Deprived areas have three times as many smokers as more affluent places. Male smokers in the poorest parts of Scotland get through around 17 cigarettes a day and women average 16.
With a pack of 20 costing £5.20, that's £31 a week for men and £29 for women - almost a quarter of their weekly income.
Their weekly budget is below £131 - just above the official poverty line of £98.
The richest male smokers smoke an average of 13 a week and the women have 12.
Maureen Moore, chairman of anti-smoking group Ash Scotland, said: "The Executive have started to concentrate on this but projects need to be targeted at deprived areas where there is clearly a desperate problem. When we see people suffering cancer, heart disease and strokes, it seems obvious that finding ways of stopping people from smoking in the first place is the most cost effective solution."
An estimated 310,217 Scots in the poorest areas are smokers.
They spend an incredible £1,330,831 on cigarettes each day.
There are three times fewer smokers living in the most affluent areas - where the average weekly household income is above £800.
They spend £352,608 on cigarettes every day.
The figures from the Office for National Statistics are based on research done in council wards across the country.
A 20-a-day habit costs Scots £1900 a year with 89 per cent going straight to the taxman. Pro-smoking groups say the steady rise in tobacco tax has created a poverty trap.
Simon Clarke of campaign group Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) said: "We have a ludicrous situation here.
"The taxation of tobacco products has been counterproductive and contributes towards poverty.
"The people it hits are the less well off, the elderly and those who find it hard to give up."
Health Minister Andy Kerr said £4million has been dedicated to trying to help poor people quit.
He said: "It has long been recognised that there is a strong link between smoking and deprivation.
"That is why over the next two years, £4 million is being allocated to help target intensive cessation support to areas of deprivation. "We are taking cessation work into new environments such as bingo halls to reach out to more people."
SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell, who spearheaded the proposals to ban smoking in enclosed spaces, said: "Anti-smoking projects have had an effect in affluent areas where the number of smokers is going down and down and down.
"But it has had little or no impact in areas where it really matters.
"Smoking is an addiction and it's too simplistic to just expect those in deprived areas to stop buying cigarettes."
£1.3m a day goes up in smoke