Wales’ Headline Statistics

Our aim is for Wales to ultimately become a smokefree nation, eventually achieving a smoking prevalence rate of 5% or less… it currently stands at 19%.

Situation in Wales

  • 19% of Welsh adults smoke
  • Men = 20% and women = 17%
  • 5,388 smoking attributable deaths and 26,489 smoking attributable hospital admissions annually
  • Lowest prevalence rates stand at 14% in Cardiff, Ceredigion and Monmouthshire whilst Neath Port Talbot has the highest rates at 25%
  • The Welsh target of 16% of adults smoking by 2020 will not be met if latest projections are accurate, instead projected to be reached in 2025

Quit Smoking

  • Considering all NHS smoking cessation services (including ‘Level 3’ pharmacies and ‘in-house’ services available via hospitals and GP surgeries) only 2.6% of smokers in Wales accessed NHS services in 2015/16, falling well below the Wales Tobacco Control Action Plan target of 5%.
  • 38% of those who were supported successfully quit (4-week validation)

Young People

  • 8% of boys and 9% of girls (aged 15/16) smoke regularly – a reduction of 5% over the past 5 years
  • 30 young people take up smoking every day in Wales
  • 40% of adult smokers regularly smoked before the age of 16
  • Since the 2007 smoking ban, 15% less children live with a parent who smokes
  • Children are over 70% more likely to start smoking if just one parent smoked, and over twice as likely if that parent is the mother
  • Second-hand smoke increases young infants’ risk of infections like flu, bronchitis and pneumonia by around 50%


  • Smoking rates in the least deprived areas of Wales stand at 9%, compared to 28% among the most deprived adults
  • Since the 2007 indoor smoking ban, smoking rates among the most socio-economic classes have dropped by 5%. Among those who are unemployed rates have actually increased by 2%
  • The ethnic groups with the highest rates of smokers are Afro Caribbean men at 37%, followed by Bangladeshi men at 36%
  • Smoking rates among female ethnic minorities are lower than the average whole population
Smoking is the biggest cause of health inequalities, especially among those with mental ill health, lower socio-economic status and pregnant women

Mental Health

  • Smoking rates among those with mental ill health stands at 33%, compared to 19% among the whole Welsh population
  • Men = 36%, women = 31% however men are more likely to have mental health issues


  • 16% of mothers smoke during their pregnancy, a decrease of 6% from the 22% seen 12 years ago
  • Women aged under 24 are the age range most likely to smoke throughout their pregnancy
  • Cwm Taf Health Board has the highest rate at 24%, Cardiff and the Vale Health Board have the lowest at 14%

Second-hand smoke


infections or disease among children


GP consultations


hospital admissions


cases of sudden infant death syndrome

  • 34% of non-smoking adults are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke
  • Second-hand smoke exposure increases the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers by 20-30% and coronary heart disease by 25-35%
  • Smoking in the home has reduced from 80% to 46% and in other people’s homes from 36% to 20% since the 2007 smoking ban
  • There were 10% less asthma-related hospital admissions among children just one year after smoking bans were introduced, rising to 17% three years after


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Economic cost of smoking across Wales every year

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The cost of smoking to the Welsh NHS specifically per year

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Smoking cost to Welsh businesses specifically per year

  • 20 a day = £56 a week, £243 a month, £2920 a year
  • 10 a day = £120 a month, £1460 a year
  • 28% – over 500,000 – could be lifted out of poverty if they stopped smoking
  • 7 million households which include a smoker are in poverty
  • 65% of Welsh people, including 24% of smokers, support increasing tax on cigarettes and tobacco

Illegal Tobacco

  • 45% of smokers in Wales have been offered illegal tobacco
  • 52% of purchases took place at a private address
  • 59% of those who buy purchase it at least once a month
  • 45% of purchases took place in a pub or club
  • £4 average price paid for a pack of 20 illegal cigarettes
  • 70% of buyers strongly agree, it allows them to smoke when they can’t afford it
  • 45% see it as an important issue affecting the local community
15% of all tobacco consumed in Wales is classed as illegal – higher than any UK region

Smokefree Spaces

smokefree spaces
  • 71% agree that smoking should be banned in hospital grounds
  • 61% agree with banning smoking in communal recreational spaces, such as parks and beaches
  • 83% agree that smoking should be banned in outdoor children’s play areas
  • Someone dies from a fire caused by a cigarette every 3 days in the UK
  • 163 fires in Welsh homes were caused by smoking materials annually
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University will be the first completely smokefree campus in Britain when it implements a ban at all its campuses from September 2019

Nicotine Products

Approximately 169,000 people vape in Wales

E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes

Only 11% of adults have heard of heat not burn devices

A one-hour session smoking shisha is the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes


  • Children’s playgrounds, school grounds and hospital grounds will be smokefree from summer 2019
  • There are 3 smokefree beaches in the UK, all of which are in Wales: 2 in Swansea and one in Pembrokeshire
  • Plain packaging became law in May 2016
  • Smoking in cars when someone under the age of 18 is present became against the law in October 2015
  • Point of sale display became law in December 2012 for large shops and April 2015 for smaller stores
  • The smoking ban in enclosed public places came into force in Wales in April 2007, a few months before England
  • Since the smoking ban in 2007, smoking prevalence among the public has fallen by 6%
  • Prevalence among teenage boys has fallen by 6% and by 14% among teenage girls since the 2007 legislation