smoking in Wales
Our ultimate aim is for Wales to become a smokefree nation, eventually achieving a smoking prevalence rate of 5% or less. It currently stands at 19%.
Key information about smoking in Wales
Smoking rates among adults aged 16+ has fallen consistently over the past decade. Latest statistics show 19% of adults in Wales currently smoke with the prevalence for men standing at 20%, compared to 17% for women (National Survey for Wales, 2016/17).
The 2013/14 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) report shows that smoking is at an all-time low among 15 and 16 year olds in Wales with 8% of boys and 9% of girls smoking regularly. For the past 20 years the proportion of regular smokers has been higher among girls aged 11-16 than boys of the same age. These 2014 stats are the first to show a minimal difference.
In 2016/2017 the percentage of adults from the least deprived areas of Wales reported as being a smoker was 9% compared to a figure of 28% recorded among the most deprived adults within the Welsh population.
ASH England estimates that in 2017 there are approximately 2.9 million adult e-cigarette users in Great Britain, an increase from 700,000 in 2012. 6% of Welsh residents currently use an e-cigarette, equating to 169,000 of the country’s population (National Survey for Wales, 2016/17).
In 2016/2017, 34% of non-smoking adults aged 16+ were regularly exposed to passive smoke in Wales. Since 2008 a higher proportion of non-smoking women have been regularly exposed to passive smoke than men, with there being a 1% difference in 2016/2017 (men: 34%; women: 35%).
In 2013/14 one in eight children aged 11 to 16 reported being exposed to second-hand smoke in cars, rising to almost a quarter of those in the low family affluence group. In addition, in 2014, 3.6% of all children aged 10 and 11, equating to 7.0% of children of smokers, reported having been in a car where someone was smoking the previous day. From October 2015, it has been illegal in England and Wales to smoke in a car carrying anyone under the age of 18.
Between 2007 and 2014 the percentage of 10/11 year olds with no parents who smoke in the home went up from 63% to 78%.
Prevention and cessation
Considering all NHS smoking cessation services (including ‘Level 3’ pharmacies and ‘in-house’ services available via hospitals and GP surgeries) 2.6% of smokers in Wales accessed services in 2015/16, falling well below the Wales Tobacco Control Action Plan target of 5%.
Smokers accessing cessation services
|Health Board||% quit attempt||% successfully quit after 4 weeks (CO validated)|
|Abertawe Bro-Morganwg UHN||2.01%||43.87%|
|Aneurin Bevan UHB||2.06%||37.58%|
|Betsi Cadwaladr UHB||4.06%||31.28%|
|Cardiff & Vale||1.54%||44.55%|
|Cwm Taf UHB||3.77%||37.35%|
|Hywel Dda UHB||2.07%||50.98%|
Morbidity / mortality
Over the period 2013-15, an average of 5,388 smoking attributable deaths and 26,489 smoking attributable hospital admissions a year occurred in Wales.
In 2015 the smoking prevalence of adults being treated for a mental illness was 33% in comparison to a smoking prevalence of 19% reported among the whole of the adult population in Wales in 2015.
In 2010, 16% of all mothers in Wales smoked throughout their pregnancy, a drop of 6% relative to the equivalent figure of 22% observed in 2005. Women aged 24 or under are most likely to smoke throughout their pregnancy.
The illegal tobacco market in Wales in 2014 accounted for 15% of tobacco consumption. Of all current smokers aged 16+ in Wales 25% have purchased illegal tobacco, with its purchase being more prevalent among males (31%) than females (19%).
Data from research we carried out in 2013 shows that the economic cost of smoking to Wales, based upon the factors listed in the full report below, is an estimated £790.66 million per year. However, it could be as high as £1.04 billion per year. The cost of smoking to the Welsh NHS specifically is likely to be around £302 million per year but could be as high as £436.6 million per year.