Smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death globally. Tobacco kills up to half of its users, this equates to 8 million deaths a year globally. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Around 80% of the world's 1.3 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.
In the UK, in 2022, 12.9% of adults now smoke; 14.6% of men and 11.2% of women, which equates to around 6.4 million people in the population. In 2022, adult smoking rates by each country in the UK were:
- England: 12.7%
- Wales: 14.1%
- Scotland: 13.9%
- Northern Ireland: 14.0%
Since 2011, the largest fall in smoking prevalence has been among 18- to 34-year-olds. Those aged 25 to 34 years continued to have the highest proportion of current smokers (16.3%, around 1.4 million people). In the UK, more than 1 in 5 (22.8%) people in routine and manual occupations smoked, compared with less than 1 in 10 people (8.3%) in managerial and professional occupations.
In England, 10.4% of mothers were smokers at the time of delivery in 2019-20.