Nearly a quarter fewer cigarettes smoked in England

AROUND 1.4 billion fewer cigarettes are being smoked in England every year, according to new research funded by Cancer Research UK.

Researchers based at University College London 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. The findings were published in JAMA Network Open.

Over the period from 2011 to 2018, the average number of cigarettes smoked monthly declined by 24.4 per cent based on survey data (3.40 billion to 2.57 billion) and by 24.1 per cent based on sales data (3.41 billion 2.58 billion).

This equates to around 118 million fewer cigarettes being smoked every month.

Cancer Research UK suggests the decline can be attributed to stricter tobacco laws and taking action to encourage people to quit smoking. Currently 16 per cent of English adults smoke cigarettes.

George Butterworth, senior policy manager at Cancer Research UK, commented: “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.

“Last month the government committed to making the UK smokefree by 2030. But stop smoking services, which give smokers the best chance of quitting, have been subject to repeated cuts in recent years. We need the government to fix the funding crisis in local stop smoking services. The tobacco industry could be made to pay for these services to clean up the mess their products have created.”