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Ex-smokers more than double number of current smokers, says PHE

New data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that there are now twice as many ex-smokers as there are current smokers in England.

The figures also show that smoking rates in England are at their lowest ever with just 16.9% of the population smoking.

PHE is launching Stoptober for the fifth year running in an attempt to encourage the remaining seven million smokers to quit.

Last year, out of the 2.5 million smokers who made a quit attempt, 500,000 people (20%) were successful – the highest recorded success rate and up from just 13.6% six years ago.

This increase in successful stop smoking attempts reflects the high number of people using quitting aids.

In 2015, just over a million people used an e-cigarette to help them quit while around 700,000 used a licensed nicotine replacement product such as patches or gum.

Meanwhile, over 350,000 people used their local stop smoking service in 2015/16.

Alongside this, according to the latest data from Nielsen, the number of cigarettes sold in England and Wales has dropped by 20% in the last two years.

The biggest decreases in smoking over the last 4 years can be seen in the South West, which has seen a drop from 18.7% to 15.5%, the North East (22% to 18.7%) and Yorkshire and Humber (21.9% to 18.6%).

Dr Gina Radford, deputy chief medical officer, said: “While we know that quitting smoking is not easy, this Stoptober is a perfect time to try again. The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to stop smoking. There is more help and support available now than ever before.

“The introduction of standardised packs removes the glamorous branding and brings health warnings to the fore and e-cigarettes, which many smokers find helpful for quitting, are now regulated to assure their safety and quality.

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing for PHE, said: “While it is amazing that there are over twice as many ex-smokers as current smokers in England there are still over 7 million people regularly lighting up.

“Alongside unhealthy diet, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable early death in England, accounting for over 78,000 deaths a year. Quitters will soon see they have reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation. Stopping smoking is the best thing a smoker can do to improve their health.”

Stoptober starts on 1 October and is based on research that by the time you have quit for 28 days you are five times more likely to stop for good.

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New data from PHE shows that there are now twice as many ex-smokers as there are current smokers in England