Where is smoking most prevalent across England?

In England, on average 14.9% percent of the population smoke. Data sourced from the NHS and Public Health England by Vape Club looks in detail at the distribution of English smokers across regions and their smoking habits, indicating where NHS services to encourage people to stop smoking have succeeded and where they have been less effective.

On the whole smoking rates are declining in the south of England, with the South East and South West the two regions with the lowest smoking rates, at 13.66% and 13.68% respectively. They are closely followed by the West Midlands and Eastern England where just 14.24% percent of the population are active smokers.

By contrast the highest smoking rates in the UK are found in the north of England, with Yorkshire and the Humber the top of the list with approximately 130,000 more people smoking than the average in England. The data shows that out of all the cities in the region, Hull is the worst affected, with a massive 23.1% (almost a quarter of the population) smoking.

North East England and North West England, with 16.21% and 16.06% of smokers respectively, follow Yorkshire and the Humber as the regions with the second and third highest rates of smoking in the country.

However, when you take into consideration the rate of smokers that have quit successfully after 4 weeks of trying, a slightly different picture emerges. The region with the highest number of successful quitters is North East England, with 2,934 per 100,000 smokers. Eastern England, with 2,544 quitters and North West England with 2,284 quitters are second and third.

Unfortunately, in addition to being the region with the highest percentage of smokers, Yorkshire and the Humber is also the region with the lowest percentage of people who have given up the habit, with just 1,582 successful quitters per 100,000. At 1.58% the region falls well below England’s average quit rate percentage, which is 2.13%.

It is clear that the NHS’s efforts – both to convince smokers to give up the habit and to support smokers who want to quit – have been markedly less successful in this region. The additional pressure this puts on the region’s health services is evident, as Yorkshire and the Humber ranks the second highest for smoking related hospital admissions and waiting lists are long.

The figures also reveal bad news for the South East of England. Despite the fact that it is the region with the lowest number of smokers in England, the South East also has the lowest successful quit rate. Clearly more work needs to be done to convince established smokers in this region to give up the habit.

By contrast, although the North East has the second highest percentage of smokers in England, it also has the highest number of people successfully giving up the habit, with a massive 21,224 people out of every 100,000 and counting. This will mean that in time their current high smoking rate will drop.

The movement away from smoking can also be attributed to the popularity of vaping, which is rising even as smoking rates continue to fall. Vaping tobacco has been confirmed by the NHS and Public Health England to be approximately 95% better for health than traditional smoking. Dan Marchant at Vape Club notes:

‘Vaping gives a real alternative to traditional smoking cessation products, and as the study shows, they are actually twice as effective. It is fantastic to see organisations such as Public Health England and the NHS embrace the public health breakthrough that is vaping, but we still have a long way to go to get this message out to the remaining 7.4 million smokers in the UK.’