• May 19, 2024

End ‘in sight’

 End ‘in sight’

Last year, 15.8 percent of UK adults smoked, down from 17.2 percent in 2015, according to a story in The Guardian newspaper citing data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The prevalence of adult smoking stands at 15.5 percent in England, a figure that rises to 16.9 percent in Wales, 17.7 percent in Scotland and 18.1 percent in Northern Ireland.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said there were now more than half a million fewer smokers in England than in 2015 and that the UK had the second-lowest smoking rate in Europe after Sweden.

“What is really fantastic news is that this steep decline is even greater among young adults [aged 18 to 24], where smoking has fallen by a staggering quarter since 2010, reversing a long trend,” he said

In 2010, 26 percent of the 18-24 age group smoked, but this had dropped to 19 percent in 2016.

“It’s now hard to believe that back in 1974 almost half of adults smoked,” said Selbie. “But now an end really is in sight and we have a real opportunity to virtually eliminate all the harm, misery and death caused by smoking.”

However, Dr. Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, warned against complacency. Smoking, she said, was still the UK’s biggest cause of early preventable death.

“Approximately 100,000 people die needlessly from smoking-related diseases every year in our hospitals – it’s time to tackle the human and financial cost the tobacco industry creates,” she said.

“These statistics confirm that e-cigarettes are mainly being used to help people quit. Given half of long-term smokers die as a result of their habit, using vaping to help someone stop smoking could literally save their life.”

Meanwhile, the director general of the UK’s TMA Giles Roca said that the drop in smoking prevalence during the past few years had been due to the emergence of harm reduction technology, such as electronic cigarettes, which the tobacco industry had been at the forefront of developing and putting onto the market.

“This stands in direct contrast to the impact of the tranche of tobacco control measures implemented by successive governments over the last decade that have had minimal effect or indeed negative consequences such as making the problem of black market tobacco even worse,” Roca said.

“As the government looks at its next tobacco control strategy and the measures within it, it would be worth reflecting on these findings and the reasons for them.”

Across the UK, 5.6 percent of people – around 2.9 million – used e-cigarettes in 2016.