The number of smokers in England has fallen by 1.8 million in the last seven years, new figures confirm.
The most recent statistics suggest that the number of smokers has fallen from 7.7 million in 2011 to 5.9 million in 2018/2019. This equates to around 1 in 7 adults.
England has a smaller proportion of smokers than all the other UK nations, but numbers have also tumbled in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, there are more than 250,000 fewer smokers, and the number has dropped from 518,000 to 383,000 in Wales.
In Northern Ireland, there has been a decrease of 36,000 smokers.
In recent years, the government and health bodies have introduced a raft of measures, which have been backed by GP and dental authorities and associations, designed to discourage people from smoking, including plain packaging, health warnings and hiding cigarettes behind shutters in stores, rather than displaying them at the tills.
The decline in smoking has undoubtedly contributed to an increase in the popularity of vaping, with the proportion of people who use e-cigarettes increasing by 70% in the last four years.
Public Health England chief executive, Duncan Selbie, said that smoking in England is in “terminal decline” and stated that the figures suggest that a smoke-free future is a real possibility. Figures are falling, and more and more people are opting to quit or even better, not to start smoking in the first place.
Figures suggest that smoking is directly linked to 1.2 million deaths per year in England. Research suggests that smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack and up to 30 times more likely to suffer from lung cancer than non-smokers.
Smoking is most prevalent in adults living in Hull, Lincoln, Burnley, Mansfield and Rugby, while the proportion of non-smokers is highest in Rushcliffe, Richmond, Oadby and Wigston, Epsom and Ewell and Selby.