How Common Is Smoking?

Smoking is becoming less common year on year; according to ASH (Action and Smoking and Health), around one sixth of the UK population smokes; this compares to one fifth in 2012 and equates to around 10 million smokers. 

Who smokes?

Men are more likely to smoke than women and smoking is most common among younger people. Twenty-two percent of adult males smoke compared to 17 percent of adult females and prevalence is highest in those aged between 25 and 34 years old. Smoking is least common in people aged over 60 years old; 25 per cent of people aged 25-34 smoke in comparison to 11 per cent of over 60’s. Almost 60 per cent of adults in the UK claim that they have never smoked.

People from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to smoke than those from a more affluent background; those with professional occupations are also less likely to smoke than people with manual jobs. People who were unemployed were almost twice as likely to smoke as those in full-time work.

In England, smoking is most common in the North East and least common in the South East. Smoking rates are highest in Northern Ireland (24% of the population), followed by Scotland (23%), Wales (21%) and England (20%). 

Statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that the number of young people (aged between 11 and 15) who admitted to trying smoking was the lowest recorded since 1982; in 2014, less than 25 per cent of 11-15 year olds said that they tried smoking.

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