News Releases

Response to latest ONS figures on adult smoking habits in the UK

Tue 3rd July, 2018

Responding to the publication of the latest figures for adult smoking habits in the UK, which show a further fall in smoking rates since 2016, Simon Clark, director of Forest, said:

“Far from being a public health success story, the recent decline in smoking rates represent a victory for the bully state.

“Instead of focussing on education, successive governments have chosen to denormalise a legitimate habit. Punitive taxation and smoking bans discriminate against millions of ordinary decent people.

“Despite this a significant number of adults continue to smoke because they enjoy it. Government must respect their choice and stop harassing them to quit.”

According to the ONS, 15.1 per cent of Britons – or around 7.4 million people – were smokers in 2017 compared to 15.8 per cent in 2016.

The rate of smoking was higher in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK – 14.9 per cent of adults in England smoked; for Wales, this figure was 16.1 per cent; Scotland, 16.3 per cent and Northern Ireland, 16.5 per cent.

Across the whole of Britain more men than women are smokers – in 2017, 17 per cent of men smoked compared with 13.3 per cent of women.

Smoking rates were highest among people aged 25 to 34 with almost one in five (19.7 per cent) of people in this age group classing themselves as current smokers.

The report also showed that around 5.5 per cent of people use electronic cigarettes, a slight dip from 2016 when it stood at 5.6 per cent.

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

Back to top