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 but remained at the same level for the past 3 years. Latest statistics show 19% of adults in Wales currently smoke with the prevalence for men standing at 21%, compared to 17% for women (National Survey for Wales, 2017/18).

The latest data published in 2019 from the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey based on 2017/18 figures, shows that 9% of 15-16-year-olds smoke at least once week, a figure that has remained unchanged since 2013/14. More than 11,000 children still take up smoking every year in Wales.

In 2017/2018 the percentage of adults from the least deprived areas of Wales reported as being a smoker was 13% compared to a figure of 28% recorded among the most deprived adults within the Welsh population. (National Survey for Wales, 2017/18).

ASH England estimates that in 2018 there are approximately 3.2 million adults adult e-cigarette users in Great Britain, an increase from 700,000 in 2012. 7% of Welsh residents currently use an e-cigarette (National Survey for Wales, 2017/18).

Find more headline statistics on smoking in Wales


Second-hand smoke

The latest data published in 2019 from the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey based on 2017/18 figures, shows that 8% of young people were exposed to smoking during their most recent car journey – a significant decrease compared to 13% in 2013/14.

This figure rises however depending on the young person’s background with 5% of those from a more affluent background having been exposed to smoke during their last car journey, compared to 14% from the most deprived families.  In 2013/14 23% of youngsters from a deprived background said someone was smoking the last time they were in a car, compared to 10% of youngsters from a more affluent background.

Prevention and cessation

Considering all NHS smoking cessation services (including ‘Level 3’ pharmacies and ‘in-house’ services available via hospitals and GP surgeries) 3.11% of smokers in Wales accessed services in 2017/18, 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 2.56% 54.82%
Aneurin Bevan UHB 3.49% 40.13%
Betsi Cadwaladr UHB 3.79% 32.36%
Cardiff & Vale 1.67% 60.28%
Cwm Taf UHB 4.61% 36.90%
Hywel Dda UHB 2.67% 55.63%
Powys  2.16% 44.37%
Wales  3.11% 43.04%

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.

Attitudes towards smoking in Wales

Results from the latest ASH Wales Cymru YouGov survey into attitudes towards tobacco control in Wales reveal overwhelming support for new measures and outdoor smoking bans.

59% said they would support a ban on smoking in all town centres in Wales and 63% agreed smoking should be banned in the outdoor eating areas of cafes and restaurants. Meanwhile 63% of those surveyed said they would support a move to ban smoking in all cars.

According to the survey, nearly half (47%) of Welsh adults feel the government is not doing enough to reduce smoking prevalence in Wales up from 39% in 2018. A total of 68%, said they would support new government action to reduce smoking rates to less than 5% by 2035.

83% called for businesses to be required to hold a valid licence to sell tobacco which would be removed if they were found selling to underage smokers more than once.  The survey also found 67% of Welsh adults support banning smoking from entertainment media aimed at young people.

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