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England: decline in smoking stalls

The rate of decline in smoking has slowed from 5.2% per year to 0.3% since 2017, says University College London (UCL).

In a study funded by Cancer Research UK, more than 100,000 respondents reported a stall in the decline of smoking between 2017 and 2022. Researchers found this was most prevalent in more advantaged social groups.

From June 2017, around 16.2% of the population were smokers. This fell to 15.1% by March 2020, but had only fallen to 15.0% in August 2022.

During the pandemic, researchers observed a 40% increase in attempts to quit, and a 120% increase in people stopping. However, this figure has been offset by a rise in the amount of people forming new habits across the same period.

The government is aiming for England to be smokefree by 2030, but a 2022 independent review showed that England may miss this target by seven years.

Lead author of the study, Dr Sarah Jackson said:

‘Smoking prevalence has been falling among adults in England at a steady rate for more than 20 years. Our data show that this decline has stalled, with an increase in quitting potentially having been offset by a rise in people taking up smoking or an increase in late relapse.

She added: ‘These findings make bold policy action more urgent.’

Image | Unsplash


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