Overall rate of smoking in adults in the UK in 2022 was 12.9 per cent, down from 13.3 per cent in 2021, official data showed Tuesday.
This is the lowest proportion of current smokers since records began in 2011, but campaigners said nowhere near fast enough to achieve the government’s ambition of 5 per cent or less by 2030.
The data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has also revealed an increase in the number of people vaping in Great Braitain, with 8.7 per cent of those aged 16 or above reporting daily or occasional e-cigarette use, as against 7.7 per cent in 2021.
Vape use was highest among those aged 16 to 24 years in Great Britain with the percentage of people in this age group who were daily or occasional vapers in 2022 increasing to 15.5 per cent compared with 11.1 per cent in 2021.
Changes in e-cigarette usage are particularly evident in younger females, with a statistically significant increase in the proportion of women aged 16 to 24 years who were daily e-cigarette users in 2022 (6.7%), compared with 2021 (1.9%).
People aged 25 to 34 years had the highest proportion of current smokers in the UK (16.3%) in 2022.
Commenting on the slow progress to the smokefree target, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the public health charity ASH, said: “Today’s figures are a wake-up call. Smoking rates are falling, but not nearly fast enough to deliver on the government’s ambition of 5 per cent or less by 2030.
“Financial stress and poor mental health are on the rise, which we know makes it harder for smokers to quit. Initiatives like ‘Swap to Stop’ are helpful but they’re nowhere near enough.”
Arnott urged the government to step up its support to smokers, by reinvesting in the vital campaigns to motivate smokers to quit and discourage youth uptake.
She welcomed the growth in vaping among adult smokers and ex-smokers, noting the potential of vaping to help smoker quit.
“However, like the ASH surveys the ONS data show a worrying growth in vaping among teens and young adults. The government’s response to the consultation on youth vaping due imminently must contain concrete measures to prohibit child-friendly branding, and put products out of sight and out of reach in shops, as well as a tax on the pocket money priced disposable vapes most popular with children,” she added.