State of Smoking in the United Kingdom | Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

state of smoking in the United Kingdom

This page was last edited on: June 29, 2022 at 9:38 am

smoking rate

Tobacco Use and Trends

  • There are about 6.9 million adult smokers in the UK. 
  • The proportion of current adult smokers in the UK[1] has continued to decline since 1974. In 2019,  prevalence of smoking in the UK was 14.1%.
  • Smoking prevalence is marginally higher among men (15.9%) versus women (12.5%).
  • Smoking prevalence is highest (19.0%) among those between 25 to 34 years.
  • Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of cigarettes smokers (15.6%), while England has the lowest proportion of cigarettes smokers (13.9%). The proportion of cigarette smokers in Scotland and Wales are 15.4% and 15.5% respectively.
  • 62.5% of those in Great Britain[2] who have ‘ever smoked’ cigarettes had quit as of 2019, which is significantly higher than 26.7% as of 1974.
  • In 2019, the proportion of current e-cigarette users in Great Britain was 5.7% (considerably higher than the 3.7% reported in 2014 when data collection began).
  • In 2020, 27.2% of adults used vaping products in a quit attempt in the previous 12 months, compared to 15.5% using NRT. 

Proportion of current smokers, all persons aged 16 years and over uk 1974 - 2020

Source: ONS, 2020


  • In 2019, 2.8 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), and 124,908 deaths could be attributable to tobacco use in UK.
  • A report by the International Longevity Centre UK showed that “if current/ex-smokers had never smoked, the difference in the equivalent rates of economic activity would boost the UK economy by £19.1 billion a year or 1.9% of earnings.”

regulatory environment

[1] The data of UK comprises four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

[2] The data of Great Britain comprises three constituent countries: England, Scotland, and Wales.

As research findings become available that are inclusive of additional gender identities, the Foundation will update the information presented. 

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