Two years on - fewer people intend to quit smoking following smoking ban peak

In collaboration with the Press Association

There has been a slight fall in the proportion of smokers who would like to try and quit, with 67 per cent of respondents to a recent survey claiming that they would be willing to give up.

This compares with 74 per cent who wanted to kick the habit in 2007, a figure that was almost certainly boosted by the introduction of smoke-free legislation in England.

The figures come from the latest survey into smoking-related behaviour and attitudes by the Office for National Statistics.

Researchers questioned around 2,500 Britons between September 2008 and March 2009, all of whom were over 16 years of age.

Half of smokers said that they intended to give up within the next 12 months, with nearly a third revealing that they either could not afford to continue or realised it was a waste of money.

More than two fifths - 44 per cent - of respondents thought that smoking was the main cause of premature death before the age of 65.

In fact, 33,000 under-65s die each year because of smoking, compared with fewer than 3,000 under-69s who die in road accidents.

Over 80 per cent of respondents recognised that secondhand smoke increases a non-smoker's risk of lung cancer, bronchitis and asthma.

Smoking also seems to be becoming less acceptable in homes, with 69 per cent revealing that they cannot light up in their own home, compared with just 61 per cent in 2006.

Nearly four fifths (77 per cent) of smokers also said that they do not smoke if there is a child present - up from 54 per cent in 1997.

Henry Scowcroft, science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "Reports from other smokefree countries suggest that sustained anti-tobacco policies help bring smoking rates down. This drop might just mean many smokers have already quit since the ban was introduced.

"That's why we're campaigning for the government to put tobacco out of sight and out of mind by stopping tobacco displays in shops, banning vending machines, and ensuring that all tobacco products are sold in plain packages."

The survey also shows that the vast majority of British people support smoke-free legislation.

Analysis indicates that there is support for the ban in indoor sports and leisure centres (94 per cent), restaurants (93 per cent), indoor shopping centres (91 per cent), and workplaces and railway stations (85 per cent).

75 per cent of respondents supported the ban on smoking in pubs.