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The number of smokers in Britain has reached its lowest point since records began in 1974, according to new data, while more than a million people say they are using e-cigarettes to help them stop smoking.

The latest data from your Office for National Statistics demonstrates that 17.2% of adults in the united kingdom smoked in 2015, down from 20.1% during 2010.

Smoking levels are highest in Scotland, at 19.1%, followed by Northern Ireland, where it is actually 19%, Wales on 18.1% and England on 16.9%. The numbers have already been dropping fastest in recent years in Scotland and Wales. Among local authorities, Blackpool is the only one to feature consistently within the 10 heaviest smoking areas between 2012 and 2015. In 2015, 25.3% of adults in Blackpool smoked.

The data also shows that 2.3 million everyone was Ecigs users in England, Scotland and Wales in 2015, about 4% from the population. Their survey also implies that 4 million more people describe themselves as former electronic cigarette users. An additional 2.6 million say they may have tried them although not gone onto make use of them regularly.

Half of the 2.3 million who were current users of e-cigarettes during the time of the survey said these were doing it to stop smoking. A further 22% said these were vaping as it was less harmful than smoking. Only 10% said they made a decision to vape as it was less expensive than buying cigarettes. Others – 9% – said they used e-cigarettes mainly because these were permitted indoors.

The figures will bolster the arguments of those who believe e-cigarettes have a major role to play in ending the tobacco epidemic. The matter has been hugely controversial among public health doctors and campaigners, some of whom consider e-cigarettes as a stalking horse for your tobacco industry which hopes to help make smoking acceptable again and has invested in vaping.

The World Health Organisation has expressed concern over e-cigarettes, but Public Health England has said vaping might be 95% safer than smoking tobacco.

One half of current smokers say they have got tried e-cigarettes, and 14.4% of current smokers also vape.

Some of the statistics suggest that it is usually the heavier smokers who turn to e-cigarettes. People who also vape smoke marginally more cigarettes each day typically than those who do not – 11.8 versus 11.3. Smokers who have given up on e-cigarettes smoke 12.2 each day versus 10.6 among those who have never used an electronic cigarette. Smokers who may have children in the home are also more inclined to utilize e-cigarettes.

The ONS vaping data is from the opinions and lifestyle survey 2014-15 and relate in order to Great Britain. The ONS figures on general smoking trends include northern Ireland.

Men will probably smoke – 19.3% do, in contrast to 15.3% of ladies. Smoking is most frequent inside the 25-34 age range, where 23% smoked in 2015. It really is least common inside the over-65s, among whom 8.8% smoke. Nevertheless the biggest decline since 2010 continues to be among the 18-24 year-olds, where it has dropped five percentage points to 20.7% in five-years.

Figures for excellent Britain also show that smokers have already been cutting back on the numbers of cigarettes they consume. Average consumption is down to 11.3 cigarettes each day, the lowest number since 1974.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH said: “The decline in smoking is very encouraging and demonstrates that strong tobacco control measures are working. However, the us government can’t let it sit to individual smokers to cxjoon to stop on their own. When the downward trend would be to continue we urgently need a new tobacco control arrange for England, and proper funding for public health and for mass media campaigns. That’s essential if the prime minister is to live up to her promise to tackle health and social inequality.”