The proportion of adults who smoke has fallen, from 27% in 1993 to 16% in 2019. And smoking habits among those who smoke are changing, too, with the average (median) number of cigarettes smoked per day falling from 15 to 10. There has also been a clear decline in the proportion of children who have ever smoked, with a decrease of 15 percentage points since 1997.
Children aged 8 to 15 who have ever smoked
Source: NHS Digital
Base: Children aged 8-15
Notes: The Health Survey for England (HSE) data was collected in participants’ homes. Children aged 8 to 15 were asked about cigarette smoking in a self-completion questionnaire to ensure greater privacy and encourage honest answers. Previous studies have shown that children feel able to answer questions on risky behaviours more honestly when asked away from the home setting, and it is likely that the HSE underestimates the level of smoking among children. For further information about this, see page 17 of the 2015 report on Children's smoking here (pdf).
Year-on-year fluctuations may not indicate real changes and can be within the margins of sampling error. We comment only on the changes that are more likely to reflect a real change.