National smoking map shows poverty link say campaigners

In collaboration with the Press Association

A map showing the number of smokers across the UK provides a graphic insight into the links between smoking and poverty, say campaigners.

Smoking remains the single biggest factor behind the difference in life expectancy between social classes in the UK, said researchers Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

The map was produced by combining government data on smoking rates and poverty, providing a graphic illustration of the underlying factors which link the two.

Just 20 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women in professional and managerial jobs are likely to smoke, compared to 34 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women in manual and routine work.

Earlier research has shown that 48 per cent of men in the poorest groups die before they reach 70, compared to 22 per cent of men in the richest classes.

Around half of this difference was said to be due to tobacco use. Ash has called for councils across the UK to use the data to inform anti-tobacco programmes.

"Smoking is the biggest killer in England, and it kills more people in poorer communities than in richer ones," said director of Ash Deborah Arnott.

"We hope that local councils, NHS primary care trusts, MPs and decision makers will use these maps as part of their work on tobacco control.

"This project shows once again why smoking must be top of the list of concerns for everyone who cares about tackling poverty and social exclusion."

The maps are available online here