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Number of smokers halves in 40 years

The number of smokers in Britain has more than halved over the last 40 years, a new survey has revealed. 

According to the General Lifestyle Survey, 45% of people smoked in 1974, compared with just 20% in 2011. 

Meanwhile, the number of men who said they drink alcohol at least five days per week fell from 22% in 2005 to 16% in 2011. 

Over the same period, the number of women who drank five days per week fell from 13% to 9%. 

Alcohol pricing

Alan Maryon-Davis, honorary professor of public health at King's College London, told the BBC: "There is more work to be done educating the public about the dangers of drink. We haven't got labelling of drinks right and there is work to be done in terms of drinks promotions and the use of social media to target young people.

"There are also issues over price and availability. We need to get rid of really cheap discounts on alcohol."

Earlier this month 70 health organisations called for the government to bring in minimum alcohol pricing

A report released by the Alcohol Health Alliance, a group which includes the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA) urged the government to “curb the nation's drink problem”. 

“The UK is seeing a year on year increase in alcohol related deaths especially liver disease and what makes this worse is that average age of people dying from liver disease is decreasing,” said Andrew Langford, British Liver Trust chief executive. 

Langford said the “avoidable epidemic” must be tackled now.

Although people are drinking on fewer nights of the week, the figures do not consider how much drinkers are consuming, which is thought to be 40% higher than it was 40 years ago. 

Smoking equality 

In 1974 51% of men smoked cigarettes, compared with 41% of women. The newest figures show there is now only a 2% difference between male (21%) and female smokers (19%).

The report shows that married people are less likely to smoke than single people, and the unemployed are