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UK smoking rate nears new low, latest statistics show

Cancer Research wants level to drop to 5%

Jenna Wilson

Friday, 02 October 2015

The smoking rate in the UK is nearing a record low.

According to statistics from the Office for National Statistics ONS 2014 Integrated Household Survey, the proportion of UK adults who smoked cigarettes fell by 2.7% between 2010 and 2014 — from 21% to 18.3%. 

The figures reveal that cigarette smoking declined across all age groups, with the biggest reduction seen in the 18 to 24 bracket and those between 35 and 49 years of age. 

Regional differences have persisted, according to the new data, with adults living in northern areas of the UK more likely to be cigarette smokers than those living in southern regions. Likewise, people in routine and manual occupations were more than twice as likely to be smokers than adults in managerial and professional occupations (28.2% and 12.1% respectively). 

Commenting, George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy manager, said: “These encouraging figures show smoking rates are moving in the right direction, falling to one of the lowest rates on record. But while this is positive, it means that more than 9.3 million people still smoke. It’s also important to note that the rate of decline isn’t as big as in recent years. 

“Smoking is a lethal addiction that causes 14 types of cancer. Without an ongoing effort to stop young people from starting, and helping smokers to quit, the progress that’s been made won’t continue, or worse, will be reversed.”

Mr Butterworth added his support to yesterday’s in-car smoking ban, which came into force in England and Wales. 

“Ultimately, these laws are about saving lives. 100,000 people die every year from a tobacco related illness - equivalent to the population of a city the size of Bath. Cancer Research UK wants to see smoking rates come down to 5% from the existing 18.3% in the next 20 years,” he said.

"The next important step in achieving this will be the removal of slickly designed and brightly coloured tobacco packaging. Next year these will be replaced with packs of uniform size, shape and design with large picture warnings on the front and back. Cancer Research UK is committed to the next generation of children being free from the death and disease caused by tobacco.”

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