In the News

10 Years on from the Smoking Ban

Geoff Riley

2nd July 2017

A decade ago a law came into force in England that made it illegal to smoke in enclosed public places. What impact has the regulation had on levels of smoking and on a host of businesses affected such as supermarkets, convenience stores and pubs?

Cigarette consumption in Britain

Reduction in smoking among adults

There has been a significant reduction in smoking rates among adults in the UK with cessation levels strongest among younger people.

According to data released by the ONS in June 2017:

  • In 2016, 15.8% of adults smoked which equates to around 7.6 million in the population.
  • 17.7% of men were current smokers which was significantly higher in comparison with 14.1% of women.
  • Among current smokers in Great Britain, men smoked 12.0 cigarettes each day on average whereas women smoked 11.0 cigarettes each day on average; the lowest levels observed since 1974.
  • 5.6% of respondents in 2016 stated they currently used an e-cigarette in 2016, which equates to approximately 2.9 million people in the population.

Supporters of the smoking ban argued that it would help in the medium term to reduce the number of premature deaths linked to smoking and lower the pressure on the NHS.

Again, according to the ONS:

  • In 2014, 17% of all deaths in people aged 35 or over in England – 78,000 deaths – were estimated as being attributable to smoking, while it was estimated to be the cause of around 9,950 deaths per year in Scotland.
  • It is estimated that 475,000 hospital admissions a year in England are directly attributable to smoking, which represents 4% of all hospital admissions.

Some recommended articles to read

BBC News: Pub smoking ban: 10 charts that show the impact

Independent: 10 years on, eight things that have changed from the ban on smoking in public

Guardian: Smoking ban 10 years on: share your memories and experiences

Sky News: Overview of the effects of the English smoking ban

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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