The harmful effects of smoking on health are well documented and the national No Smoking Day is designed to raise awareness of the health benefits of quitting smoking. Within England, one in five adults (19.5%) report that they currently smoked1. This latest ONS analysis shows a link between the rate of smoking and area deprivation in England, with rates highest amongst those living in the most deprived areas. In this summary, areas were grouped into five categories (quintiles) with quintile 1 representing the most deprived areas across England and quintile 5 representing the least deprived areas.
Figure 1 - Smoking rates by area deprivation
Men and women more likely to smoke if living in most deprived areas
Men in the most deprived areas (quintile 1) were more than twice as likely to smoke (32.9%) compared with men in the least deprived areas (quintile 5) at 14.3%. Smoking rates amongst women were lower than those for men but were still highest in the most deprived areas (26.1%) than the least deprived areas (10.2%).
The largest difference in the current smoking rates between neighbouring quintiles was seen between quintile 1 and 2 where there was a 7.2 percentage point difference for men and a 6.1 percentage point difference for women.
Men and women in the least deprived areas were more likely to have quit smoking
Of all those people who had ever smoked (current and ex-smokers), men and women in the most deprived fifth of areas were less likely to have given up smoking (46.5% and 48.5% respectively) than those in the least deprived fifth (74.0% and 76.0% respectively). The ages 25-34 appear critical for deciding to quit smoking; figure 2a and figure 2b shows that men and women living in the two most deprived quintiles were most likely to continue to smoke than those living in quintiles 3-5. This suggests more action is needed to help smokers in the most disadvantaged areas to give up smoking.
Figure 2a - Smoking rates for men by age and area deprivation
Figure 2b - Smoking rates for women by age and area deprivation
Smoking in deprived areas was lowest at age 75+, for both men and women
For the most deprived areas, the rates of smoking amongst men increased until age 35-44 where it peaked at 37.2% and then dropped to its lowest level at age 75+ (13.5%). For women in the most deprived areas, the rate of smoking sharply dropped at age 25-34 but then steadily increased until the age 45-54 (31.3%); the lowest rate of smoking was at age 75+ (11.8%).
Smoking steadily declined across age in the least deprived areas
For the least deprived areas (quintiles 3 to 5) there was a steady decline in the rate of smoking as age increased. For men, the smoking rate decreased with age, from 23.3% at age 18-24, to 4.6% at age 75+. Similarly for women, the rate of smoking was 14.9% at age 18-24 and 3.9% at age 75+.
The largest smoking inequality between the most and least deprived areas occurred at middle age
Men and women aged 45-54 experienced the greatest inequality in the rates of smoking between the most and least deprived areas; a 22.7 percentage point difference for men and 20.6 percentage point difference for women. Earlier analysis by ONS has shown that the difference in rates of ‘Not Good’ health and disabling health conditions between more and less advantaged people also occurs during middle-age.
Where can I find out more smoking statistics?
These statistics were analysed by the Health Analysis team at ONS using data from the Integrated Household Survey and published on the ONS website. If you’d like to find out more about the latest smoking and health statistics please visit our Health and Social Care page. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d like to hear them! Please email us at email@example.com.
Notes for Section
1Integrated Household Survey, January to December 2012; Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, Smoking Habits Amongst Adults, 2012.
Data on the prevalence of current smoking, for adults aged 18 and over, from the 2012 Integrated Household Survey (IHS) was linked to the 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD 2010).
IMD is a measure of area deprivation which considers: income, education, employment, health and crime amongst others.
Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs) were grouped into five categories (quintiles) based on their IMD score. Quintile 1 represents the most deprived areas across England and quintile 5 represents the least deprived areas.