The Big Drop

Posted 23rd September 2019 by Dave Cross
The ongoing work by the researchers behind University College London’s Smoking Toolkit Study (STS) has shown that smoking rates in England have dropped by the largest amount in over a decade. Given that cessation services are starved of funding, the only factor that can have played a major part is vaping – despite the negative hysteria.

“Not smoking is now the norm in England”, says Public Health England (PHE). “But despite smoking rates being lower than ever before, millions still smoke across the country.”

Data shows that those in manual occupations are more than twice as likely to smoke as those in professional and clerical roles. There were an estimated 77,800 deaths attributable to smoking in 2017. This represents 16% of all deaths.

The UCL Smoking Toolkit Study is an academic study of smoking and quitting trends, based on monthly household surveys of representative samples of approximately 1,800 adults (16 years old and above) in England.

Smoking prevalence in England has reached a record low, with smokers accounting for 14.4% of the adult population in England. Smoking prevalence in England amongst men is 16.4% and amongst women 12.6%. (Source: ONS Annual Population Survey 2018)

Vape Club

Professor Jamie Brown, project leader for STS, said: “We’re really excited about this data showing such a huge drop in the number of smokers so far in 2019. We’re at an all-time low for the number of smokers, but we want to see more people quitting. There is nothing to be lost by trying to quit so I would advise every smoker to give it a go at least once a year.”

The government’s tobacco control plan, published in July 2017, sets a series of challenging ambitions to:

  • reduce adult smoking rate from 15.5% to 12% or less
  • reduce the prevalence of 15 year olds who regularly smoke from 8% to 3% or less
  • reduce the prevalence of smoking in pregnancy from 10.7% to 6% or less

Despite the success, some regions have seen an uptake in smoking. Birmingham had a rate of 13.7% in 2017, but this has risen to 16.2%. Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “It’s really disappointing that in some areas smoking rates are rising rather than declining, which bucks the national trend of a continued decline in smoking rates. It’s also clear that much more needs to be done to help people quit.”

PHE is plugging Stoptober, to help encourage smokers to make a quit attempt and join those who have already quit this year. It is encouraging all smokers to join in with the nation’s biggest quit attempt, which begins on 1 October 2019. PHE is providing them with the support and information they need to ‘split up’ with smoking this Stoptober.

Premier Ecigs

Yvonne Doyle, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at PHE, said: “It’s really encouraging to see these early signs of such a fast drop in smokers but we’ve still got a way to go to achieve our ambition of a smoke-free society. That’s why Stoptober is back and we are encouraging all smokers to take part. Giving up smoking is the best thing a smoker can do for their health and it can also help save ­­­money – in just 28 days smokers will start to notice so many benefits.”

The campaign will target all smokers with new creative content highlighting the benefits of ‘breaking up’, urging them to re-evaluate their bad relationship with smoking and ‘split up’ this October. The creative will feature across digital, radio and out-of-home advertisements throughout the campaign period, to help keep smokers motivated during their quit attempt.

Stoptober has supported over 1.9 million people on their quit journey to date – if a smoker can remain smokefree for 28 days, they are 5 times more likely to quit for good.


  • Smoking In England, Smoking Toolkit Study - [link]

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker