“Last smoke” Won’t Happen Until After 2050 – New Research Predicts

“Last smoke” Won’t Happen Until After 2050 – New Research Predicts
“Last smoke” Won’t Happen Until After 2050 – New Research Predicts
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Bristol, Wokingham and York to be the first parts of England to go smoke free in mid 2020s

England will not go smoke free until after 2050, according to new research conducted by Frontier Economics that was commissioned by Philip Morris Limited (PML). However, there are stark variations in the predicted rate of decline in different parts of the country, with one in ten areas predicted to still be smoking in 32 years’ time and nearly a quarter (23%) predicted to have stopped before 2030.

The research established the parts of England* forecast to stop smoking soonest – and those predicted to still be smoking after 2050.

• Areas set to go smoke free quickest are Bristol (in 2024), Wokingham and York (both 2026).
• Areas expected to still be smoking beyond 2050 include North Lincolnshire, Derby and Cheshire East.

The research also highlights a variety of measures that could accelerate the decline in cigarette smokers.

These include increasing the number of smokers using NHS Stop Smoking services and getting more switching to better alternatives like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco.

The new figures are detailed on a website launched by PML – www.lastsmoke.co.uk – which presents ONS data for postcode areas through an interactive tool. It also includes a powerful call to action to encourage communities to go smoke free faster.

The findings of the report include:

• Regional falls in smoking rates from 2011 to 2017 varied from 10% to 1% – with one area, Cheshire East, actually seeing a rise in smoking prevalence in 2017 than six years earlier.

• Significant differences in smoking prevalence across England, with 3% of local authorities having a rate of over 20% while 4% have a rate of between 5% and 10%.

• Deprived areas** have a higher prevalence rate of smokers. The three areas with the highest rates of smoking – Kingston upon Hull, Blackpool and North Lincolnshire – have an average rate of 22.1% compared to an average rate of 8.8% among the three lowest, which are Rutland, York and Wokingham.

The Last Smoke website also includes other proposals that could accelerate the end of cigarettes in the country. These include more independent research into smoking alternatives, targeted government campaigns through school and social media to stop smoking in the first place and tackling the trade in illicit cigarettes by taking tougher action against criminal gangs.

Mark MacGregor, UK Corporate Affairs Director of PML, said: “Our business is committed to going smoke free as fast as possible and ultimately stopping selling cigarettes altogether. What this research reveals is the huge variations in the decline in smoking in different parts of the country. We want to play our part in working with local businesses, retailers and councils in the areas with highest smoking rates. It is not going to be easy getting smokers in these areas to stop. One of the keys to success will be ensuring they understand that there are more alternative options than ever that can help them give up cigarettes for good.”

Table 1: Bottom 10 local authorities with latest “last smoke” dates

Local Authority 2017 Prevalence Rate Total % point change (2011-17) Last Smoke date
North Lincolnshire 20.84% -1.33% After 2050
Derby 18.91% -1.47% After 2050
Cheshire East 16.4% 2.7% After 2050
Bedford 16.17% -1.41% After 2050
Central Bedfordshire 15.84% -1.25% After 2050
North Yorkshire 15.63% -2.07% After 2050
Hampshire 14.36% -2.5% After 2050
Shropshire 14.04% -2.08% After 2050
Bath & North East Somerset 13.42% -1.95% After 2050
Southampton 17.38% -3.34% 2049


Table 2: Top 10 local authorities with earliest “last smoke” dates

Local Authority 2017 Prevalence Rate Total % point change (2011-17) Last Smoke date
City of Bristol 11.14% -9.95% 2024
Wokingham 8.13% -5.68% 2026
York 9.01% – 6.49% 2026
East Riding of Yorkshire 10.81% -6.80% 2027
Blackburn with Darwen 16.75% -10.36% 2027
Portsmouth 15.17% -9.5% 2027
Reading 13.59% -8.4% 2027
Buckinghamshire 9.17% -5.30% 2028
Bournemouth 13.85% -7.95% 2028
Milton Keynes 13.26% -7.27% 2028