The national smoking rate has fallen to below 17% for the first time, according to figures published today by Public Health England.
The biggest decreases in smoking over the last four years can be seen in the South West (18.7% to 15.5%), the North East (22% to 18.7%) and Yorkshire and Humber (21.9% to 18.6%).
“There is more help and support available now than ever before”
Alongside this, according to the latest data from Nielsen, the number of cigarettes sold in England and Wales has dropped by 20% in the last two years.
Meanwhile, last year, out of the 2.5 million smokers who made a quit attempt, 500,000 people (20%) were successful – the highest recorded success rate and up from just 13.6% six years ago.
The increase in successful stop smoking attempts reflects the high number of people using quitting aids, noted PHE.
In 2015, just over a million people used an e-cigarette in a quit attempt, while around 700,000 used a licensed nicotine replacement product such as patches or gum. In addition, over 350,000 people used their local stop smoking service in 2015-16.
The figures were released ahead of this year’s annual “Stoptober” campaign. The initiative, now in its fifth year, starts on the 1 October and is based on research that by the time you have quit for 28 days you are five times more likely to stop for good.
Former footballer Chris Kamara and former England cricketer Phil Tufnell are promoting Stoptober 2016.
Smoking levels have fallen to record low in England
Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE’s national director of health and wellbeing, said: “While it is amazing that there are over twice as many ex-smokers as current smokers in England, there are still over seven million people regularly lighting up.
Dr Gina Radford, deputy chief medical officer for England, added: “There is more help and support available now than ever before.
“The introduction of standardised packs removes the glamorous branding and brings health warnings to the fore and e-cigarettes, which many smokers find helpful for quitting, are now regulated to assure their safety and quality,” she said.
“We also have a range of free support that can go direct to your phone, laptop or tablet via the Stoptober app, a daily email service or Facebook Messenger bot,” she said. “The new Stoptober website also has advice and information on stop smoking services and quitting aids.”