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 17%.

Situation in Wales

  • Latest statistics show 17% of adults in Wales currently smoke. (National Survey for Wales, 2018/19).
  • The latest data 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 2018/2019 the percentage of adults from the least deprived areas of Wales reported as being a smoker was 13% compared to 21% among the most deprived adults within the Welsh population. 1
  • ASH England estimates that there are approximately 3.2 million adults adult e-cigarette users in Great Britain, an increase from 700,000 in 2012. In Wales 6% of residents currently use an e-cigarette 1
  • Lowest prevalence rates stand at 13% in Monmouthshire whilst Neath Port Talbot has the highest rates at 25%

Young People

  • 22% of 16-24 year olds smoke and 27% of 25 to 34 year olds smoke
  • 40% of adult smokers started smoking regularly before the age of 16
  • 8% of boys and 9% of girls (aged 15/16) smoke regularly
  • 30 young people take up smoking every day in Wales
  • Children are over 70% more likely to start smoking if just one parent smoked
  • Second-hand smoke increases young infants’ risk of infections like flu, bronchitis and pneumonia by around 50%
  • 8% of adolescents reported that during the last journey they took by car, there was someone smoking (Figure 7.7).


  • Smoking rates in the most deprived areas of Wales stand at 21%, compared to 13% among the least deprived adults 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
Smoking is the biggest cause of health inequalities, especially among those with mental ill health, lower socio-economic status and pregnant women

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
illegal tobacco

Mental Health

  • Smoking rates among those with mental ill health stands at 36%, compared to 17% among the whole Welsh population
  • Men = 41%, women = 34%


  • The proportion of pregnant women who smoke at their initial assessment is higher for younger women, with 30% of women aged 24 or under smoking at initial assessment compared to 19% of women aged 25-34 and 16% of women ages 35 or over (2017-18 ) 3
  • Women aged under 24 are the age range most likely to smoke throughout their pregnancy
  • Cwm Taf Health Board has the highest rate of pregnant smokers 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%
  • In 2016/17, 44% of the most deprived communities were exposed to second-hand smoke indoors and outdoors , which compared to 30% of those in the least deprived communities.
  • 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 = £72 a week, £327 a month, almost £4000 a year
  • 28% of smokers – over 500,000 people – 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

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