Tobacco statistics

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Caused by smoking

Smoking is the largest cause of cancer in the UK

Current smokers

Adults who currently smoke, UK

Deprivation

Cigarette smoking in adults is associated with higher deprivation, 2019.

Smoking causes at least 15 different types of cancer: lung, larynx, oesophagus, oral cavity, nasopharynx, pharynx, bladder, pancreas, kidney, liver, stomach, bowel, cervix, leukaemia, and ovarian cancers.

Incidence of some smoking-related cancers is decreasing thanks largely to decreases in smoking prevalence; these include lung cancer (decreasing in males), oesophageal cancer (decreasing in females), and bladder cancer. However, unless there is further progress in reducing smoking prevalence, these decreases are expected to slow and eventually stop.[1]

Tobacco is the largest preventable cause of cancer and death in the UK.[1, 2] and one of the largest preventable causes of illness and death in the world. [2] Smoking caused an estimated 125,000 deaths in the UK in 2015 - around a fifth (21%) of all deaths from all causes.[3] It caused an estimated 43,000 cancer deaths in the UK in 2015 - more than a quarter (26%) of all cancer deaths.[3] Smoking (both active smoking and environmental tobacco smoke) causes 3 in 20 (15%) cancer cases in the UK.[1]

References

  1. Brown KF, Rumgay H, Dunlop C, et al. The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the UK overall in 2015. British Journal of Cancer 2018.
  2. Global Health Data Exchange. Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Results Tool. Available from http://ghdx.healthdata.org/gbd-results-tool. Accessed October 2020.
  3. Peto R, Lopez AD, Pan H, Boreham J, Thun M. Mortality from Smoking in Developed Countries 1950-2020 (2020 update). Personal communication, July 2020. Similar data available from https://gas.ctsu.ox.ac.uk/tobacco/ 

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2015, ICD-10 C00-C97 excl. C44.

Last reviewed:

14.1% of UK adults (aged 18+) currently smoke cigarettes (2019).[1] This equates to an estimated 6.9 million UK adult cigarette smokers.[1]

Smoking prevalence in adults in the UK and constituent nations is generally higher in males compared with females. Among the UK consitituent nations, adult smoking prevalence is lowest in England.

Smoking prevalence in adults is generally higher in UK constituent nations’ own annual health surveys than in the UK-wide Annual Population Survey.[1-5] This is probably due to differences in the age and socio-economic composition of the survey samples. Annual Population Survey is the official source for UK and England smoking statistics; for the devolved nations the official sources are their own annual health surveys.

References

  1. Office for National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in the UK. Available from https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/previousReleases. Accessed July 2020.
  2. Scottish Government. Scottish Health Survey. Available from https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-health-survey-2018-summary-key-findings/ Accessed July 2020.
  3. Northern Ireland Department of Health. Health Survey Northern Ireland. Available from https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/topics/doh-statistics-and-research/health-survey-northern-ireland. Accessed July 2020.
  4. Welsh Government. National Survey for Wales. Available from https://gov.wales/national-survey-wales. Accessed July 2020.
  5. American Cancer Society and Vital Strategies. The Tobacco Atlas. Available from https://tobaccoatlas.org/. Accessed July 2020

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2019.

The most appropriate source of smoking statistics varies across the UK nations: for the UK overall, data are for adults aged 18+ from the Office for National Statistics Annual Population Survey; for UK constituent nations individually and in comparison, data are for adults aged 16+ from each nation's own annual health survey (NHS Digital's Health Survey for England, Scottish Government's Scottish Health Survey, Welsh Government's National Survey for Wales, Northern Ireland Department of Health's Health Survey Northern Ireland).

Last reviewed:

Cigarette smoking prevalence among adults in the UK overall is highest in those aged 25-34, then decreases with age.[1] In UK constituent nations separately, cigarette smoking prevalence is lowest in the oldest age groups, but the age group with the highest smoking prevalence varies.[2-4]

References

  1. Office for National Statistics.Adult smoking habits in the UK. Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/2017. Accessed July 2020
  2. Scottish Government. Scottish Health Survey. Available from https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-health-survey-2018-summary-key-findings/ Accessed July 2020.
  3. Northern Ireland Department of Health. Health Survey Northern Ireland. Available from https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/topics/doh-statistics-and-research/health-survey-northern-ireland. Accessed July 2020.
  4. Welsh Government. National Survey for Wales. Available from https://gov.wales/national-survey-wales. Accessed July 2020.

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2019

The most appropriate source of smoking statistics varies across the UK nations: for the UK overall and for comparisons between UK constituent nations, data are for adults aged 18+ from the Office for National Statistics Annual Population Survey; for UK constituent nations individually, data are for adults aged 16+ from each nation's own annual health survey (NHS Digital's Health Survey for England, Scottish Government's Scottish Health Survey, Welsh Governments National Survey for Wale's, Northern Ireland Department of Health's Health Survey Northern Ireland).

Last reviewed:

Cigarette smoking prevalence among adults (aged 16+) in Great Britain has fallen by around two-thirds since the late 1940s.[1,2]

Cigarette Smoking Prevalence, Adults aged 16 and Over, Great Britain, 1948-2019

Cigarette smoking prevalence among adults aged 18+ in the UK has fallen by almost a third since 2011.[3]

References

  1. Data for 1974 onwards: Office for National Statistics. Adult Smoking habits in Great Britain. Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/drugusealcoholandsmoking/datasets/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain. Accessed July 2020.
  2. Data for 1948-1973: PN Lee Statistics and Computing Ltd. International Smoking Statistics Web Edition. Available from: http://www.pnlee.co.uk/ISS.htm. Accessed July 2020.
  3. Office for National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in the UK. Available from https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/previousReleases. Accessed July 2020.

About this data

Data is for: Great Britain and UK, 2019

The longest consistent time trend for Great Britain smoking statistics comes from the Office for National Statistics Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (formerly known as the General Lifestyle Survey and General Household Survey), which has run since 1974. Pre-1974 data comes from a number of sources. 

For the UK overall, time series data is available from 2010. For UK constituent nations individually, time series data is available from around the 1990s. 

The most appropriate source of smoking statistics varies across the UK nations: for the UK overall and for comparisons between UK constituent nations, data are for adults aged 18+ from the Office for National Statistics Annual Population Survey; for UK constituent nations individually, data are for adults aged 16+ from each nation's own annual health survey (NHS Digital's Health Survey for England, Scottish Government's Scottish Health Survey, Welsh Government's National Survey for Wales, Northern Ireland Department of Health's Health Survey Northern Ireland).

 

Last reviewed:

Smoking prevalence in adults is higher in more deprived groups in the UK and constituent nations.[1-4]

Smoking prevalence in adults in the UK and constituent nations is higher in people who identify as white, mixed, or other ethnicity, compared with people who identify as Asian, Chinese or Black ethnicity.[1]

Smoking prevalence in adults is generally lower in more deprived countries compared with those that are less deprived. However smoking prevalence is generally increasing in more deprived countries while it is decreasing in less deprived countries.[5]

Specialist support and prescription medication combined are the most effective way to stop smoking.[6]

 

References

  1. Office for National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in the UK. Available from https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/previousReleases. Accessed July 2020.
  2. Scottish Government. Scottish Health Survey. Available from https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-health-survey-2018-summary-key-findings/ Accessed July 2020.
  3. Northern Ireland Department of Health. Health Survey Northern Ireland. Available from https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/topics/doh-statistics-and-research/health-survey-northern-ireland. Accessed July 2020.
  4. Welsh Government. National Survey for Wales. Available from https://gov.wales/national-survey-wales. Accessed July 2020.
  5. American Cancer Society and Vital Strategies. The Tobacco Atlas. Available from https://tobaccoatlas.org/. Accessed July 2020
  6. Kotz D, Brown J, West R. 'Real-world' effectiveness of smoking cessation treatments: a population study. Addiction. 2014;109(3):491-9.

About this data

Data is for: UK, 2019.
The most appropriate source of smoking statistics varies across the UK nations. For the UK overall, England, and for comparisons between UK constituent nations, data are for adults aged 18+ from the Office for National Statistics Annual Population Survey. For Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, data are for adults aged 16+ from each nation's own annual health survey (Scottish Government's Scottish Health Survey, Welsh Government's National Survey for Wales, Northern Ireland Department of Health's Health Survey Northern Ireland).

Last reviewed:

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the many organisations across the UK which collect, analyse, and share the data which we use, and to the patients and public who consent for their data to be used. Find out more about the sources which are essential for our statistics.