In 2018, 14.7% of people aged 18 years and above smoked cigarettes. This equates to around 7.2 million of the UK population and represents a steep decline of more than 5% from the last survey in 2011.

Nationally more men (16.5%) smoked than women (13%).

The age group 25 to 34 years has the highest proportion of current smokers at 19.2%.

Around 1 in 4 (25.5%) of people in routine and manual occupations are smokers whereas this is only 10.2% for people in managerial and professional occupations (10.2%).

In Great Britain, 58.4% of people aged 16 years and above who currently smoked said they wanted to quit and 61.3% of those who have ever smoked said they had quit. This would indicate the downward trend should continue over the coming years.

However, it’s worth noting that 6.3% of people in 2018 said they currently used an e-cigarette, which equates to approximately 3.2 million adults in the population. More data will be required to see if this number increases over time.

High Smoking Areas

Knowing which areas contain the highest amount of smokers is important in targeting government funding to reduce smoking rates and therefore smoking-related diseases.

To see which area has the highest number of smokers let’s first break it down by country. In England, approximately 17.8% of adults smoke, 19.4% in Wales, 19.5% in Scotland and Northern Ireland has the most smokers with 20.7%.

We can break down these results into the local authority level and visualise them (see the map above) to narrow down which areas are smoking the most. The local authorities with the highest number of smokers are:

  • Blaenau Gwent – South Wales (25%)
  • Glasgow City (24.5%)
  • Derry City and Strabane (24.4%)
  • Knowsley – Liverpool (24.3%)
  • Merthyr Tydfil – South Wales (24.2%)

With 2 of the top 5, it appears South Wales is the highest smoking area. We can dive deeper into South Wales and visualise it by ward to gain a better understanding.

At a more granular level, we can see a small area around Merthyr Tydfil and Pontycymmer has exceptionally high smoking rates whereas the more rural surrounding areas have below average rates. These high smoking areas would make perfect targets for anti-smoking campaigns.

Low Smoking Areas

We can also use our map of local authorities to find the areas with the fewest smokers:

  • City of London (11.3%)
  • Richmond upon Thames (11.7%)
  • Hart (11.9%)
  • Wokingham (12.0%)
  • Elmbridge (12.0%)

All of the lowest smoking areas are found either in London or the surrounding counties and highlights the correlation between wealth and the propensity to smoke. It also highlights the range in the number of smokers from region to region with the lowest areas having less than half the amount of smokers as the highest areas.


Moving from South Wales to London is unlikely to affect your smoking habits but it does show how the environment can affect peoples behaviour and eventually their health. This information is vital for many types of customer profiling whether it be targeted campaigning or advertising.

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