Around 1.4 billion fewer cigarettes are being smoked every year according to new research published in JAMA Network Open.
Between 2011 and 2018, average monthly cigarette consumption fell by nearly a quarter, equating to around 118 million fewer cigarettes being smoked every month. Over the whole period, the average number of cigarettes smoked monthly declined by 24.4% based on survey data and 24.1% based on sales data from 3.40 billion and 3.41 billion a month to 2.57 billion and 2.58 billion, respectively.
‘It’s great news that fewer cigarettes are being sold and smoked,’ said George Butterworth, senior policy manager at Cancer Research UK. ‘Big tobacco said that introducing stricter regulation wouldn’t work and campaigned against it, but this is proof that smoking trends are heading in the right direction. But smoking is still the biggest preventable cause of cancer, and certain groups have much higher rates of smoking, such as routine and manual workers, so we can’t stop here and think job done.’
The researchers looked at cigarette sales data for England and compared this with the monthly self-reported cigarette use of over 135,000 individuals from the Smoking Toolkit Study. They found that the two different methods of looking at how many cigarettes people are smoking provided similar results
‘It’s brilliant that over a billion fewer cigarettes are being sold and smoked in England every year,’ said Dr Sarah Jackson from UCL’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group. ‘The decline in national cigarette consumption has been dramatic and exceeded the decline in smoking prevalence, which, over the same time period, was around 15%. This means that not only are fewer people smoking, but those who continue to smoke are smoking less.’