Cigarette consumption drops by 1.4 billion in England each year, a study from Cancer Research UK shows.
Average monthly cigarette consumption fell by a quarter from 2011 and 2018, totalling 118 million fewer cigarettes each month.
Cancer Research UK suggests these figures show stricter tobacco laws and encouraging people to quit smoking is having an effect.
‘It’s brilliant that over a billion fewer cigarettes are sold and smoked in England every year,’ lead author, Dr Sarah Jackson from UCL’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, said.
‘The decline in national cigarette consumption is dramatic and exceeded the decline in smoking prevalence, which, over the same time period, was around 15%.
‘This means that not only are fewer people smoking, but those who continue to smoke are smoking less.
‘Studies like this help to give us an accurate picture of cigarette consumption.
‘(This is) so we know where we’re at and what more needs to be done.’
Average monthly consumption has declined by 24.1% based on sales data, the research shows.
The charity claims only 16% of adults in England now smoke.
Cancer Research UK says several recent laws have played a huge role in decreasing smoking:
- 2002 – larger health warnings were placed on cigarettes
- 2003 – billboards and print ads were banned
- 2007 – the indoor smoking ban was introduced
- 2012 – cigarette displays were banned
- 2017 – plain standardised packaging was introduced.
‘It’s great news that fewer cigarettes are sold and smoked,’ George Butterworth, senior policy manager at Cancer Research UK, said.
‘Big tobacco companies said that introducing stricter regulation wouldn’t work and campaigned against it.
‘But this is proof that smoking trends are heading in the right direction.
‘Smoking is still the biggest preventable cause of cancer, and certain groups have much higher rates of smoking.
‘So we can’t stop here and think job done.
‘Last month the government committed to making the UK smoke-free by 2030.
‘But stop smoking services are subject to repeated cuts in recent years.
‘We need the government to fix the funding crisis in local stop smoking services.
‘The tobacco industry could pay for these services to clean up the mess their products have created.’
The government is planning on eliminating smoking from Britain by 2030.
Tobacco companies will cover the cost of helping smokers to quit by 2030.
Actions to help people quit include leaflets placed inside cigarette packets and targeting black market cigarettes.
‘Gains in tobacco control are hard-won, and there’s still much to do,’ plans say.
‘For the 15% of adults who are not yet smoke-free, smoking is the leading cause of ill-health and early death, and a major cause of inequalities.
‘That’s why the government wants to finish the job.’