The rate of smoking in the English public has fallen below 17% for the first time, according to PHE.
Since 2012, the biggest decreases in smoking were observed in the South West (18.7% to 15.5%), the North East (22% to 18.7%) and Yorkshire and Humber (21.9% to 18.6%). According to the figures released by PHE, 2.5 million smokers made a quit attempt last year, with 500,000 people (20%) successfully stopping smoking. This is the highest recorded success rate and up from just 13.6% six years ago.
‘While it is amazing that there are over twice as many ex-smokers as current smokers in England there are still over 7 million people regularly lighting up,’ said Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing for PHE. ‘Alongside unhealthy diet, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable early death in England, accounting for over 78,000 deaths a year. Quitters will soon see they have reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation. Stopping smoking is the best thing a smoker can do to improve their health.’
The fall has been associated with the increase in using smoking cessation aids such as e-cigarettes. In 2015, just 1,027,000 used an e-cigarette in a quit attempt while around 700,000 used a licensed nicotine replacement product such as patches or gum. In addition, over 350,000 people used their local stop smoking service in 2015 to 2016. Accordingly, the number of cigarettes sold in England and Wales has dropped by 20% in the last two years.
The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to stop smoking. There is more help and support available now than ever before. The introduction of standardised packs removes the glamorous branding and brings health warnings to the fore and e-cigarettes, which many smokers find helpful for quitting, are now regulated to assure their safety and quality.