Prevalence of smoking has fallen by almost a quarter since 2010, dropping from 19.9% to 15.5% of adults over 18 in 2016, official statistics show.
Prevalence fell most in younger age groups, dropping by seven percentage points in 18-24 year olds and five percentage points in 25-34 year olds. It fell the least in patients aged 65 or over, by three percentage points.
Smoking is now thought to cause 4% of all hospital admissions, with over a quarter (27%) of hospital admissions being for conditions that can be caused by smoking.
In the latest UK statistics on deaths, from 2015, around 79,000 were considered to be due to smoking – some 16% of all deaths.
Over a third of deaths due to respiratory disease were estimated to be attributable to smoking, alongside half of deaths from cancers linked to smoking.
Presented in an NHS Digital report, the data show e-cigarette use rose over the last year to 2.4m users, around 5% of the adult population. Prevalence among 16-24 year olds particularly increased, from 2% in 2015 up to 6%.
RCP president Professor Jane Dacre said: ‘The RCP welcomes these latest data demonstrating a significant further fall in smoking prevalence among UK adults.
‘Over the past 10 years the RCP has championed the use of harm reduction approaches for smokers who are unwilling or otherwise unable to quit smoking.
‘These latest figures, the latest in a series of substantial falls in smoking prevalence over the past few years, tell us that this and other UK approaches to tobacco control are working.
‘We should continue to develop and exploit harm reduction for public health gain, and encourage as many smokers as possible to either quit altogether, or else switch to a low risk product.’