Smoking rates in England are the lowest on record

England now has twice as many ex-smokers as smokers, according to health officials.

Smoking rates across England are the lowest on record, with 17 per cent of the population classified as smokers – the lowest level since records began.

Experts say the decrease may be partly due to the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes.

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Out of the 2.5 million smokers who tried to give up smoking last year, one in five were successful.

Public Health England (PHE) said this is the highest recorded quitting rate to date – six years ago the success rate was around one in seven.

Regional success

In England, the number of smokers kicking the habit over the last four years has fallen fastest in the North East (22 per cent to 18.7 per cent), Yorkshire and Humber (21.9 per cent to 18.6 per cent) and the South West (18.7 per cent to 15.5 per cent).

The figures were released as PHE launched its annual Stoptober campaign to encourage the nation’s remaining smokers to quit for the month of October.

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In 2015, one million smokers used an e-cigarette, 7000,000 used a nicotine replacement and 350,000 used their local stop smoking service to try and quit.

Smoking is estimated to cost the NHS more than £2.7 billion a year, according to research in 2006.

More than £50 million a week is spent treating diseases caused by smoking.

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

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“Alongside unhealthy diet, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable early death in England, accounting for 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.”