Smoking rates in England hit 80 year low

In collaboration with the Press Association

The number of people smoking in England has dropped to its lowest figure in around 80 years, say University College London (UCL) scientists.

 “Reducing the numbers who smoke and the number of young people who start smoking must remain a focus. Plain, standardised packaging is key to protecting children from tobacco marketing." - Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK

The latest statistics come from a large national study that has been monitoring smoking habits in England since 2006.

Reporting their findings in The BMJ, the researchers reveal that in 2013 fewer than one in five adults were smoking. 

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s head of tobacco policy, said: “It’s very encouraging to see this snapshot of the number of smokers in England.

“Reassuringly, the figures are going down but it’s vital to remember the many millions of people who remain addicted to a lethal product. Half of all long-term users will die from smoking.”

In 2013, 22,167 people aged from 16 years were surveyed and the number of smokers was found to be less than one in five.  

A rapid increase in smoking rates occurred during the 20th century. This peaked prior to the publication of a seminal report linking smoking and lung cancer in 1962, called “Smoking and Health”, by which time more than 70 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women smoked.

Publication of the figures comes during the same week that a Bill successfully passed through the House of Commons to allow plain standardised packaging to be introduced in the UK. Regulations about how and when standardised packs will happen still need to be agreed.

Cancer Research UK’s Alison Cox, added: “Reducing the numbers who smoke and the number of young people who start smoking must remain a focus. Plain, standardised packaging is key to protecting children from tobacco marketing.

“This week’s votes in parliament showed unprecedented support for tobacco control measures that will protect children from tobacco marketing and from second hand smoke. We urge the government to take the next steps to make standard packaging a reality as soon as possible.”

Tobacco smoking causes around 60,000 cases of cancer in the UK annually and is estimated to be responsible for over one in four of UK cancer deaths.

Copyright Press Association 2014

References

Brown J. & West R. (2014). Smoking prevalence in England is below 20% for the first time in 80 years, BMJ, 348 (feb11 9) g1378-g1378. DOI: