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Has Smoking Fallen Out Of Fashion?

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Photographed by Jessica Nash.
Smokers are being increasingly left out in the cold, if new government data is anything to go by.

The number of smokers in England has dropped to its lowest level since records began, with just one in six adults now lighting up.

According to Public Health England, just 16.9% of adults self-define as smokers, down from 19.3% in 2012, the BBC reported.

More than 500,000 people successfully managed to quit – a fifth of the number who tried – which was the highest success rate on record. Just one in seven people managed to quit six years ago, reported the BBC.

The trend has been attributed to people opting for e-cigarettes instead. More than a million people saying they vaped to try to quit. A large number (700,000) said they used patches, gum or other nicotine replacement products.

While smoking rates have declined in general, there remains a north-south divide, the data showed.

In the north-east, 18.7% of people smoke – the highest proportion of all the regions, followed by the north-west and Yorkshire and the Humber, where 18.6% of people smoke.

The south-west of England had the fewest smokers, with just 15.5% of adults smoking there. A similar number smoke in the West Midlands (15.7%), 15.9% in the south-east and slightly more in London (16.3%).

There is also a social class divide, with less well-off people more likely to smoke than wealthier people. A fifth (20.4%) of poorer people smoke, compared with 14.3% of the better off, reported The Guardian.

Public Health England released the data ahead of its annual Stoptober campaign, which urges people to quit smoking and launches next month.

Rosanna O'Connor, director of drugs, alcohol, tobacco at Public Health England, said the decline in smoking has been helped by marketing campaigns and the high cost of cigarettes.

“But we are also influenced by the people around us," she added. "The more ex-smokers there are among your friends and family, the more likely you are to quit for good and the less likely your children are to start.”

Along with a greater awareness of what we're putting inside and onto our bodies – from food to beauty products – this peer pressure is becoming increasingly dominant in our culture of health and wellness.
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