The NHS has failed to spend more than £110,000 of the money earmarked to help smokers quit, despite the fact the habit costs Northamptonshire £38 million a year.
The figures were contained in a report written for Northamptonshire County Council by consultants PHAST, which also showed that about 1,000 people a year in the county die from smoking-related illnesses.
The report details how the Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust only spent £820,000 of its £931,000 Stop Smoking budget last year.
The PHAST report said: “Despite these underspends, the service sometimes does not recruit to vacant posts, which can impair service delivery.
“Smoking is a pre-eminent public health problem and smoking cessation offers compelling value for money.
“It is difficult to understand why resources should be redirected elsewhere, especially when the commissioner [the county council] specifically directed the money to smoking cessation.”
In 2011/12, the underspend amounted to more than 13 per cent of the budget of £882,000.
In 2012/13, the allocation rose by six per cent to £931,000, but the stop smoking service only spent £820,000 - an underspend on that year’s budget of 12 per cent.
The report said increasing the proportion of smokers reached by the smoking cessation service by about 5,500 people would each year reduce GP consultations by 700, reduce hospital admissions by 26, save the NHS £373,000 and create savings for society of £600,000.