Essential facts, stats and quotes relating to smoking

Published on: 17th August 2015 | Updated on: 28th March 2022

This page contains facts, stats and quotes that LPC members may find useful when writing business cases or developing resources to support the commissioning of a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) supply service or stop smoking service.

This page is ‘work in progress’ and will continue to be updated with new facts, stats and quotes.

Facts, stats and quotes on other topics can be accessed on the Essential facts, stats and quotes page.

Office for National Statistics, Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2018 (July 2019)

Read the full report

  • In the UK, 14.7% of people aged 18 years and above smoked cigarettes in 2018, which equates to around 7.2 million people in the population and represents a statistically significant decline of more than 5 percentage points since 2011, based on our estimate from the Annual Population Survey.
  • Of the constituent countries, 14.4% of adults in England smoked; for Wales, this figure was 15.9%; Scotland, 16.3% and Northern Ireland, 15.5%.
  • In the UK, 16.5% of men smoked compared with 13.0% of women.
  • Those aged 25 to 34 years had the highest proportion of current smokers (19.2%).
  • Around 1 in 4 (25.5%) people in routine and manual occupations smoked, compared with just 1 in 10 people (10.2%) in managerial and professional occupations.
  • In Great Britain, 58.4% of people aged 16 years and above who currently smoked said they wanted to quit and 61.3% of those who have ever smoked said they had quit, based on our estimates from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.
  • In Great Britain, 6.3% of people in 2018 said they currently used an e-cigarette, which equates to approximately 3.2 million adults in the population.

Office for National Statistics, Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2016 (June 2017)

Read the full report

  • In 2016, of all adult survey respondents in the UK, 15.8% smoked which equates to around 7.6 million in the population.
  • Of the constituent countries, 15.5% of adults in England smoked; for Wales, this figure was 16.9%; Scotland, 17.7% and Northern Ireland, 18.1%.
  • In the UK< 17.7% of men were current smokers which was significantly higher in comparison with 14.1% of women.
  • Those aged 18 to 24 in the UK experienced the largest decline in smoking prevalence of 6.5% since 2010.
  • Among current smokers in Great Britain, men smoked 12 cigarettes each day on average whereas women smoked 11 cigarettes each day on average; these are some of the lowest levels observed since 1974.
  • In Great Britain, 5.6% of respondents in 2016 stated they currently used an e-cigarette in 2016, which equates to approximately 2.9 million people in the population.

NHS Digital, Statistics on Smoking, England (June 2017)

Read the full report

  • There were estimated to be around 474,000 hospital admissions attributable to smoking in 2015/16, which was an increase from 458,000 in 2005/06.
  • As a proportion or all admissions, this has fallen to 4% from 6% in 2005/06.
  • There were estimated to be around 79,000 deaths attributable to smoking in 2015. This represents 16% of all deaths.
  • There were an estimated 2.4 million current e-cigarette users in 2016, representing around 5% of adults. Prevalence amongst 16 to 24 year olds has increased from 2% in 2015 to 6% in 2016.
  • Just under 11% of mothers were recorded as smokers at the time of delivery in 2016/17, down from 15% in 2006/07.

NHS Digital, Health Survey for England (December 2016)

Read the full report

Adult cigarette smoking

Variations in smoking prevalence

  • 18% of adults in England were current smokers in 2015.
  • There remains considerable variation by income: 29% of adults in the lowest income quantile were current smokers, almost three times as many as in the highest income quantile where 10% were current smokers.

Exposure to second-hand smoke

  • Among non-smokers, 81% were not exposed to second-hand (environmental) tobacco smoke.
  • Self-reported regular exposure to second-hand smoke was highest among those aged 16-24; over half of this age group reported some exposure.

Use of e-cigarettes

  • The proportion of adults who currently use e-cigarettes was 5%, representing a small increase from 2013 when 3% were current e-cigarette users.
  • The prevalence of ever having used e-cigarettes was much higher among current smokers (40%). Only 1% of those who had never smoked had ever used an e-cigarette.

Children’s smoking and exposure to other people’s smoke

  • 1% of children aged 8 to 15 in the years 2014 and 2015 reported that they had smoked regularly (at least one cigarette per week).
  • 4% of all children aged 8 to 15 reported that they had ever smoked a cigarette, down from 19% in 1997.
  • Among non-smoking children aged 4 to 15, 34% of boys and 38% of girls had detectable levels of cotinine in 2014/15, indicating exposure to other people’s smoke.
  • Mean cotinine levels were higher (indicating more exposure to second-hand smoke) for children from lower income households, for children living in households where one or more people smoked in the home on most days, and for children with one or more parents who currently smoked cigarettes.
  • In 2015, 6% of all children aged 13 to 15 reported current or previous use of a non-tobacco nicotine delivery product. Over one-third of children (38%) aged 13 to 15 who had ever smoked a cigarette reported current or previous use of a nicotine delivery product, but use among children who had never tried a cigarette was rare at 2%.

BMJ Open, Community pharmacy-delivered interventions for public health priorities: a systematic review of interventions for alcohol reduction, smoking cessation and weight management, including a meta-analysis for smoking cessation (2015)

Click here to read the article

  • Community pharmacy-delivered smoking cessation interventions including behavioural support and/or NRT are effective and cost-effective, particularly when compared with usual care.
  • The evidence shows a range of types of smoking cessation interventions that are feasible and effective within community pharmacies, and supports the commissioning of smoking cessation services in a community pharmacy setting.
  • Smoking cessation services, contracted as a core part of the national contract, or part of a national ‘advanced’ service, may well be a reasonable option.
  • Given the potential reach, effectiveness and associated costs of these interventions, commissioners may consider using community pharmacies to help deliver some of their smoking cessation services.

Public Health England, Healthmatters: smoking and quitting in England (September 2015)

Click here to read the report

  • Smoking causes 17% of all deaths in people aged 35 and over.
  • People in more deprived areas are more likely to smoke and are less likely to quit. Smoking is increasingly concentrated in more disadvantaged groups and is the main contributor to health inequalities in England.
  • Men and women from the most deprived groups have more than double the death rate from lung cancer compared with those from the least deprived.
  • Smoking is twice as common in people with longstanding mental health problems.
  • Most smokers start as teenagers: 66% start before the age of 18 and 83% start before the age of 20. The reasons they start are complex, ranging from peer pressure to behavioural problems.
  • Children are more likely to take up smoking if they live with people who smoke.
  • The best way to reduce smoking among young people is to reduce it in the world around them.

Statistics on the NHS Stop Smoking Services: England, April 2015 to March 2016 (August 2016)

Click here to read the report

  • The number of people setting a quit date through NHS Stop Smoking Services in 2015/16 fell for the fourth consecutive year to 382,500. This represents a decrease of 15% on 2014/15 and 37% on 2005/06.
  • The number of people who successfully quit (self-reported) also fell for the fourth consecutive year to 195,170. This was a decrease of 15% on 2014/15 although the success quit rate remained similar at 51%.
  • 71% of successful quitters (self-reported) had their results confirmed by Carbon Monoxide (CO) verification in 2015/16. This is an increase in the proportion who had their results confirmed by CO verification of 2% from 2014/15.

House of Commons Library, Statistics on Smoking (July 2016)

Click here to read the report

  • The proportion of adults who have never smoked cigarettes has increased over the last 30 years, from 25% of men and 49% of women in 1974 to 54% and 63% respectively in 2014.
  • In 2014, 30% of those in routine and manual occupations were smokers, compared to just over 10% of those in managerial and professional occupations.
  • As annual income increases, prevalence of smoking generally decreases.

NHS Employers - Pharmacy-based stop smoking services: optimising commissioning (July 2009)

Click here to read the report

  • There is a strong evidence base for the effectiveness of pharmacy-led stop smoking programmes:
    • community pharmacists trained in behaviour change methods are effective at helping clients to stop smoking;
    • involving pharmacists in smoking cessation in hospital pharmacy and prison settings are effective;
    • community pharmacy-based stop smoking services are cost effective;
    • abstinence rates from one-to-one services provided by community pharmacists are similar to those of primary care nurses.
  • Community pharmacies serve local communities and have the potential to reach and treat large numbers of people who use tobacco. They are ideally placed to provide clear and credible information to help people make informed choices, and provide a readily available network of trusted health professionals and their teams, based in the heart of communities.
  • This allows a focus on opportunistic advice to stop smoking when signs of smoking are observed, for example, nicotine-stained fingers, buying smokers’ toothpaste, repeated requests for cough remedies etc.
  • The table below shows how pharmacy can contribute and the likely benefits and outcomes:
How pharmacy can contribute Likely benefits and outcomes
Opportunistic and brief advice/interventions for stopping smoking Successful quitters
Provision of intensive stop smoking interventions Greater awareness of the range of options to support quitting
Availability of over-the-counter products to support quitting Potentially better health outcomes for people who quit
Community-based outreached i.e. into schools Health benefits due to the reduction in secondary smoke inhalation
Supplementary and independent prescribing of medicines that help people stop smoking Improved access and choice
Availability of stop smoking medicines through Patient Group Directions Increased range of enhanced services, which improve customers’ experience and encourage customer loyalty
  • Community pharmacy-based stop smoking services, run by trained pharmacy staff are effective and cost-effective.

The Cochrane Collaboration, Community pharmacy personnel interventions for smoking cessation (review) (2008)

Click here to read the report

  • Interventions in which pharmacists were trained to provide a counselling and record keeping support programme for smokers, were associated with increased and more highly rated counselling, and may have a positive effect on smoking cessation rates.
  • This review indicates that community pharmacy personnel have the potential to make a significant contribution to smoking cessation targets.
  • The issue of time constraints and appropriate remuneration for pharmacy staff who provide smoking cessation support for their customers need to be addressed.

Pharmacy Health Link, RPSGB & NICE, Helping smokers to stop: advice for pharmacists in England (2005)

Click here to read the report

Opportunities for community pharmacists to give brief advice:

  • Prescription service: the dispensing of many types of medication can be linked with smoking cessation advice, for example, medication for respiratory or cardiovascular disease, and women using oral contraceptives. There is also an opportunity to ask clients with a prescription for smoking cessation medication if they are receiving additional support.
  • Minor ailment service: pharmacies are often the first port of call for minor ailments, for example, a person presenting with a cough can be asked whether they smoke.
  • Purchase of over-the-counter medicines: it is appropriate to ask a customer purchasing, for example, a cold remedy whether they smoke. Smokers buying NRT over-the-counter can be informed about additional treatment options available locally.
  • Involvement in local or national campaigns: No Smoking Day and Quit campaigns (for example, at Ramadan) are examples where pharmacists can be involved.



For more information on this topic please email

Latest LPCs & Local news

View more LPCs & Local newsSee all