Billion fewer cigarettes smoked in England a year

Woman breaking a cigarette
Image caption,

Far fewer people smoke now

The number of cigarettes smoked each year in England has fallen by more than a billion, according to analysis by Cancer Research UK.

The charity says average monthly cigarette consumption fell by a quarter between 2011 and 2018 - equating to 118 million fewer cigarettes smoked each month.

Only 16% of adults in England smoke, latest data shows.

Cancer Research said it showed smoking trends were "heading in the right direction".

Figures from 2018 showed just 14% of people over 18 in England smoked cigarettes, down 5% from 2011.

And the government recently pledged to eradicate the habit completely by 2030, as part of a raft of measures to tackle the causes of preventable ill health.

'Dramatic decline'

In this study, researchers from University College London looked at cigarette sales data and information from 135,000 men and women taking part in the Smoking Toolkit Study, a monthly study that looks at people’s smoking habits.

The analysis showed the average number of cigarettes smoked each month declined by more than 26% over the course of the period studied, from around 3.4 billion to 2.5 billion a month.

Dr Sarah Jackson, from UCL's Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, who led the study, said: “It's brilliant that over a billion fewer cigarettes are being sold and smoked in England every year.

“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.”

George Butterworth, senior policy manager at Cancer Research UK, added: "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.”