Just over one in five of the UK adult population are regular cigarette smokers and there is now very little difference between men (21 per cent) and women (20 per cent).
Although this represents a significant decline in prevalence over the past several decades there are still sections of the population where smoking is far more common. In 2010 the proportion of adults in routine and manual occupations who smoked (28 per cent) was over twice that of those in professional and managerial positions (13 per cent).1
Smoking eventually kills half of long term smokers and the main causes of death are cancer, cardiovascular disease and lung disease.
Stopping smoking greatly reduces the risk of developing these diseases and of dying prematurely. The earlier smokers quit, the better; however, there are significant health benefits to cessation, at all ages. Quitting smoking halts the increase in risk of lung cancer and the risks for CHD. stroke and peripheral vascular disease are all reduced substantially within the first couple of years of quitting.3
Smoking cessation also reduces respiratory symptoms, the risk of developing COPD and halts the decline in lung function in people who already have COPD.4