The number of people smoking in England has hit an all-time low, according to new figures from Public Health England (PHE).
In 2015, smoking prevalence fell to 16.9% of the population in England.
This is down from 17.8% of the population in 2014, according to PHE’s Annual Population Survey.
The survey also found that regionally, smoking prevalence is higher than average in the East Midlands (18%), North East (18.7%), North West (18.6%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (18.6%).
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said: “Smoking is still the biggest preventable cause of cancer, so it’s good to see that smoking rates are at a record low.
“But today’s data shows large regional variations that reflect health inequalities between the richest and poorest in England.
“The NHS has said that its future sustainability relies on an upgrade in public health and preventing disease, but a reduction in the number of people smoking won’t happen on its own. We need well-funded tools to help smokers to quit, like local stop-smoking services, but cuts to public health budgets are making it harder for smokers to get this support.
“The government must make good on its promise of an ambitious new tobacco strategy, and provide sustainable funding to deliver it.”
While smoking rates have decreased on the whole, the figures also show that fewer people are successfully setting a date to quit smoking.
The rate of people setting a quit date dropped from 7,262 per 100,000 smokers in 2013/14 to 5,549 in 2014/15.
Furthermore, the number of people successfully quitting after four weeks, with carbon monoxide validation, decreased from 2,612 per 100,000 smokers in 2013/14 to 1,954 in 2014/15.