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People are now smoking 1.4 billion fewer cigarettes each year

A new study funded by Cancer Research UK has revealed that consumers are now smoking around 1.4 billion fewer cigarettes every year. Average monthly cigarette use dropped by nearly 25 percent between 2011 and 2018, which is the equivalent of 118 million less cigarettes per month. 

The findings suggest that initiatives to discourage smoking, such as stricter tobacco regulations, are working. 

A team of researchers led by the University College London analyzed data on cigarette sales in England compared to the monthly self-reported cigarette use of over 135,000 participants from the Smoking Toolkit Study. 

The experts found that two different investigative approaches produced very similar estimates. During the seven-year study period, the average number of cigarettes declined by 24.4 percent each month based on survey data, while sales data showed that this number fell by 24.1 percent from 3.4 billion to 2.57 billion.

“It’s brilliant that over a billion fewer cigarettes are being sold and smoked in England every year,” said study lead author Dr. Sarah Jackson. “The decline in national cigarette consumption has been dramatic and exceeded the decline in smoking prevalence, which, over the same time period, was around 15%. This means that not only are fewer people smoking, but those who continue to smoke are smoking less.”

“Studies like this help to give us an accurate picture of cigarette consumption so we know where we’re at and what more needs to be done.”

Around 16 percent of adults in England and 14 percent of American adults currently use tobacco. George Butterworth is the senior policy manager at Cancer Research UK.

“It’s great news that fewer cigarettes are being sold and smoked. Big tobacco said that introducing stricter regulation wouldn’t work and campaigned against it, but this is proof that smoking trends are heading in the right direction. But smoking is still the biggest preventable cause of cancer, and certain groups have much higher rates of smoking, such as routine and manual workers, so we can’t stop here and think job done,” said Butterworth. 

“Last month the government committed to making the UK smoke-free by 2030. But stop smoking services, which give smokers the best chance of quitting, have been subject to repeated cuts in recent years. We need the government to fix the funding crisis in local stop smoking services. The tobacco industry could be made to pay for these services to clean up the mess their products have created.”

The study is published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Kenishirotie

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