Changes in Smoker Characteristics in England

Smoking in England has decreased over the last decade. It is vital to monitor the trends and examine the factors that may be influencing the downward curve, so as to maintain the pattern and make predictions about future smoking rates.

A recent study, published in Addiction, has examined:

  1. Whether adult smoking and quitting behaviour has changed from 2008 to 2017
  2. Are changes in personal characteristics of adult smokers different from changes in the non‐smoker population?
  3. Are changes in smoking and quitting behaviour independent of changes in personal characteristics among smokers?

The researchers collected information through a survey called the Smoking Toolkit Study (STS). The survey asked questions about age, sex, profession, region in England and smoking status and behaviour.

Results from the study found that:

  • Between 2008 and 2019 mean daily cigarette consumption and the time to first cigarette decreased
  • The proportion of smokers attempting to cut down or quit decreased
  • The number of people accessing behavioural support decreased, whilst the number of people using pharmacological support, including e‐cigarettes, increased
  • Overall the changes in smoking behaviour and intention to quit were independent of personal characteristics.

The results found that there continued to be a greater amount of smokers of low social grade highlighting the need for targeted interventions to be made more accessible. The rise in popularity of e-cigarettes shows more people are turning to pharmacological support compared to specialist clinics and NHS services. It is important that these services remain prominent and available for those who would like advice and guidance. 

Garnett, C., Tombor, I., Beard, E., Jackson, S., West, R., & Brown, J. (2019). Changes in smoker characteristics in England between 2008 and 2017. Addiction.