UK 2019 Smoking and Vaping Statistics

UK 2019 Smoking and Vaping Statistics

Man vaping

  •  More than 15% of over 18s in the UK currently smoke. 5.5% currently vape.
  • The number of smokers has dropped by 1.6 million over the last six years.
  • Over 60% of current smokers want to quit, and 59.5% of those who have ever smoked have already quit.
  • The highest proportion of male smokers are now between 16 and 24 years old.
  • 17% of men in the UK smoke and just over 13% of women do.


As a direct result of the 2006 Health Act, a smoking ban was imposed in July 2007 that meant the use of cigarettes in any confined workspace was now illegal.


Now, over a decade after this huge shift was first implemented, online pharmacy firm Chemist 4 U has conducted research into the difference the smoking ban has had on our society’s habits and health.


Current records state that smoking is responsible for around 96,000 deaths in the UK every year, and smoking-related diseases cost the NHS £2 billion a year.




UK Smoking by Age Statistics


Individuals aged between 25 and 34 constitute the largest proportion of cigarette smokers in the UK, splitting off from the 18 to 24 age group in 2012 when the latter demographic began to decline in number. Overall, almost 20% of people within this age group smoke. By contrast, those aged 65 and over have been consistently found to be the least likely to smoke, with just over 8% of this demographic doing so.


The overall figures are as follows:

  • 18-24 -  17.8% (1.45m people)
  • 25-34 - 19.7% (1.60m people)
  • 35-44 - 16.9% (1.37m people)
  • 45-54 - 16.7% (1.36m people)
  • 55-64 - 14.9% (1.21m people)
  • 65+ - 8.1% (914,000 people)


Smoking over the Years


Smoking has reduced gradually throughout all UK demographics as time has gone by, but the most significant change has been amongst 18 to 24-year-olds. In 2011, 25.7% of this age group was smoking. As of 2017, that number had dropped by an astonishing 8% to just 17.8%.


UK Smoking Statistics by Gender


In general, men currently smoke more than women, with the age demographics showing the closest figures being, again, the 25 to 34 group. Of this portion, 22.5% of men smoke and 21.3% of women do. This demographic hosts the highest proportion of female smokers, but men aged both 18 to 24 and 35 to 49 use cigarettes more - 23.9% and 23.7% respectively. There is a greater difference between the female age groups, with the next most prolific smokers within this demographic being 35 to 49 years olds at 18.6%.


Historically, men as a group have always smoked more than women. Back in the 1940s, men smoked an average of 14 cigarettes per day, with women using between 6 and 7. Men smoked the most towards the end of the 1970s, consuming 21.6 cigarettes per day on average.


Woman Smoking


Smoking and Work


According to recent figures, smoking breaks cost UK businesses about £5.8 billion a year.


Around 1 in 4 (25.9%) people in routine and manual occupations smoke, while only 1 in 10 people (10.2%) in managerial and professional occupations do so.


Almost twice as many unemployed people smoke (30%) than employed people (15.5%).


Quitting Smoking: How It’s Going


During 2007, potentially as a direct result of the recent smoking ban, around 42.5% of current smokers were trying to quit. However, as time has moved on, that number dropped to 33.5% in 2011 before picking up again for a short period in 2013. Since then it has gradually declined once more, with a brief rise to just over 34% in 2017. The number currently stands at just over 30%, with a success rate of around 16.4% (the peak for quitting success was in 2014, where the figure stood at over 19%).


Smoking Statistics by Region


The highest percentage of smokers can be found across Blackpool (currently 22.3% of the local population smoke), Hastings (22.2%) and Kingston-upon-Hull (23.1%). These three localities have topped the charts for the last three years. At the other end of the scale, Chiltern has retained its low proportion of smokers for four years solid, with the current figure standing at 6.4%.


World Smoking Statistics


5.8 trillion cigarettes were smoked globally in 2014.


China saw the most cigarettes smoked overall that year, with its residents smoking more than the next 29 countries combined.


The use of cigarettes is actually increasing everywhere except in countries with a high Human Development Index. In Belarus, for example, 46% of men smoke every day, while just over 18% do so in the UK. There is also a greater difference between the number of male smokers and the number of female smokers in developing countries, with women smoking considerably less than men.


UK 2019 Vaping Statistics by Age


Between 2012 and 2017, the number of UK residents turning to e-cigarettes skyrocketed by 314%, from 700,000 to 2.9 million.


Comparatively, e-cigarettes are still quite new, so data on this subject is less firm in terms of who might be considered a “long term” user. However, Chemist 4 U’s research shows that the age groups containing the highest number of “current” e-cigarette users are 25 to 34-year-olds and 35 to 49-year-olds, both of which are pretty much tied at between 6 and 7%. However, 16 to 24-year-olds are the most likely to experiment with vaping, with over 30% of members of this demographic having done so. 25 to 34-year-olds are the most likely to have used e-cigarettes for an extended period of time and then given up. Overall, the number of vapers, whether current, past or experimental, declines steadily with age - though the youngest demographic contains fewer past users than the 25 to 34 age group.


Man Vaping


UK Vaping Statistics by Gender


The aforementioned gender disparity can also be seen when looking into the use of e-cigarettes. In all three categories - those who have experimented with e-cigarettes, those who have used them in the past and those who currently use them - men are in the majority, with an approximate percentage difference of between 2 and 4% each time. Both demographics follow the same downward pattern, however - almost 22% of men and just over 17% of women have experimented with vaping, nearly 15% of men and nearly 12% of women used to vape, and 6.5% of men and nearly 5% of women currently use e-cigarettes.


How Often do People Vape, and Why?


A huge 70.4% of e-cigarette users vape every day, while only 18.7% vape once a week but not daily, 4.2% vape once a month and 6.6% smoke less than once a month.


Around 60% of e-cigarette users also smoke cigarettes. Smokers who also use e-cigarettes most commonly vape between 2 and 5 times a day, while the majority of ex-smokers who do so use their e-cigarettes six times a day or more.


Almost half of ex-smokers who use an e-cig say they do so to help them quit smoking, while just over 29% do so because they believe it is less harmful than smoking cigarettes. Perhaps because of this, the use of e-cigarettes by long-term ex-smokers has grown considerably between February 2015 and the present, leaping from less than 5% back then to around 10% in March 2018. Use of nicotine replacement therapy, by contrast, has sunk gradually from just under 5% to around 3% since 2014.


The majority of current e-cigarette users (over 50% of ex-cigarette smokers and around 44% of current cigarette smokers) prefer to buy their products in person from a specialist vaping shop, as opposed to online, at a newsagents shop, garage, supermarket or from friends.


World Vaping Statistics


The UK has the third biggest vape market in the world, behind the US and Japan


The global population of vapers is estimated to has risen from 7 million in 2011 to 35 million in 2016, and it’s predicted to reach 55 million in 2021.




Understanding the Health Implications: UK Smoking and Vaping Statistics


The number of people who believe that smoking and vaping is equally harmful is on the rise, jumping from 9% in 2012 to almost 22% in 2017. At the present time, less than 6 out of 10 people believe that vaping is less dangerous to health than smoking tobacco.


To support this, the search term “is vaping worse than smoking” has risen in popularity by around 160% just over the last year.


There are around 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and 50 are known to cause cancer.


Nine out of ten people mistakenly think that nicotine is one of the most dangerous substances in cigarettes, with almost four out of ten wrongly believing that it causes cancer.


Globally, 10.8% of mothers are smokers at the time that their child is born.


Smoking during pregnancy


12% of women smoke during pregnancy in England and Scotland


In 2018/19, 12% of all women in England smoked during their pregnancy. This is most prevalent in women under the age of 20 at a rate of 30%. This falls to 16.8% of women aged 20-29, 7.6% of women aged 30-39 and 6.2% of women aged 40 and over.


The picture is similar in Scotland, with 32.6% of women aged under 20 smoking during their pregnancy. However, there is a higher rate of smoking in Scotland compared to England of women in their 20s, with 26.8% of women in this age bracket admitting to smoking during pregnancy.

Chemist4U - Site News
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 17 September 2021
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