A study suggests that the decades-long decline in smoking in England has nearly come to a standstill since the onset of the pandemic. The research indicates that the rate of decline, which was 5.2% in the years preceding the pandemic, has drastically slowed to a mere 0.3% between April 2020 and August 2022.
The lead researcher expressed concern that this deceleration could be attributed to an increase in young people taking up smoking, emphasizing the need for urgent measures to address this trend. In response, the government asserted its commitment to implementing “bold action” to make England smoke-free, with measures such as raising the legal age.
The study, based on surveys conducted with 101,960 adults representative of the population, estimated that 16.2% of the population smoked in June 2017. This figure decreased to 15.1% at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, and further declined to just 15% in August 2022. The research findings indicate that the slower rate of decline has persisted consistently since August 2022.