Over a billion fewer cigarettes smoked a year since 2011

Around 1.4 billion fewer cigarettes are being smoked a year compared to 2011, according to new Cancer Research UK research.

Their study, which was published in JAMA Network Open, found that average monthly cigarette consumption has dropped by nearly a quarter, with around 118 million fewer cigarettes being smoked every month.

The researchers, based at University College London (UCL), looked at cigarette sales data for England and compared this with the monthly self-reported cigarette use of over 135,000 individuals from the Smoking Toolkit Study.

The charity says this decline suggests that stricter tobacco laws and taking action to encourage people to quit smoking are working.

However, 16% of English adults still smoke cigarettes.

This decade has also seen the rise of the e-cigarette or vape, with the number of smokers turning to vaping as an alternative rising by over 300%. Last year, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) reported an estimated 3.2 million adults now vape in the UK.

Lead author, Dr Sarah Jackson from UCL’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, said: ‘It’s brilliant that over a billion fewer cigarettes are being sold and smoked in England every year. The decline in national cigarette consumption has been 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.

George Butterworth, senior policy manager at Cancer Research UK, added: ‘It’s great news that fewer cigarettes are being sold and smoked. Big tobacco 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.

‘But smoking is still the biggest preventable cause of cancer, and certain groups have much higher rates of smoking, such as routine and manual workers, so we can’t stop here and think job done.’

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