Smoking rate at all-time low as ex-smokers outnumber smokers two to one

The smoking rate in England has dropped below 17% for the first time, according to official data that show ex-smokers now outnumber people who smoke by more than two to one.

Just 16.9% of the UK population smoke, and 14.6m people are ex-smokers - compared with just 7.2m active smokers, latest figures from Public Health England show.

Sales of tobacco have plummeted in recent years, latest data suggest, falling 20% in England and Wales in the last two years alone.

The data have been released ahead of the 2016 Stoptober campaign. During last year's campaign, of 2.5m people who tried to quit smoking a total of 500,000 were successful.

Smoking cessation

The largest decreases in smoking over the last four years can be seen in south-west England, where the smoking rate fell from 18.7% to 15.5%, north-east England (22% to 18.7%) and in Yorkshire and Humber (21.9% to 18.6%).

Deputy CMO Dr Gina Radford said: 'While we know that quitting smoking is not easy, this Stoptober is a perfect time to try again. The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to stop smoking. There is more help and support available now than ever before.

'The introduction of standardised packs removes the glamorous branding and brings health warnings to the fore and e-cigarettes, which many smokers find helpful for quitting, are now regulated to assure their safety and quality.'

The decline in smoking rates has continued since the introduction in England of a ban on smoking in enclosed public places in July 2007. In 2006, 22% of the British population were smokers.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Dr Jackie Applebee

Doctors tell BMA to pull GP practices out of PCNs by 2023

The BMA has been told to organise the withdrawal of GP practices from PCNs by 2023...

GP consultation

3 in 10 doctors fear being blamed or facing legal action after admitting mistakes

Three in 10 doctors are worried about the repercussions of admitting to clinical...

BMA House entrance

Only 55% of Romney review recommendations on BMA sexism fully implemented

Only just over half of recommendations from the 2019 Romney review into sexism in...

BMA House entrance

GPs face pension tax penalties worth 'half their post-tax income'

Rapid swings in inflation could leave GPs facing pension tax penalties worth 'half...


BMA to demand significant pay rises to combat 15 years of real-term cuts

The BMA is set to demand significant pay rises for all doctors to undo over a decade...

UK police station

Reporting a crime in the practice – the confidentiality dilemma

With incidents of aggressive behaviour from patients on the rise, Dr Emma Green,...