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UK smoking report

UK smoking report

Stefano Mirabello NowPatientGreen tick
Medically reviewed by Stefano Mirabello, BPharm and written by Rajive Patel, BPharm - Updated on 4 Dec 2023
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Only a few decades ago, people saw smoking as desirable and, in many ways, beneficial – even adverts would promote the use of cigarettes! Since then, many studies have been conducted which have highlighted the plethora of health risks associated with regular tobacco inhalation, including cancer and heart disease.

Recent figures have estimated that around 6.9 million people in the UK are currently smokers. As the UK’s first regulated digital health service, our priority at NowPatient is to help you manage your health by providing you with all the necessary resources through our online pharmacy. Despite all of the damning evidence showing why you shouldn’t smoke, it somehow remains a popular habit across the country.

Because of this, we wanted to see which UK areas are being affected the most by smoking, including the highest proportion of smokers, and the highest smoking mortality rates. This report will also provide tips on how you can quit smoking in the hope that we can inspire you to take control of your health.

Kingston upon Hull and Lincoln have the highest proportion of smokers in the UK – 26.1% of all residents!

UK areas with the most smokers

Even though there has been a considerable decline in the number of smokers since its peak in the 1960s, there is no doubt that this habit is still prevalent across the country. We have compiled a list of the areas in the UK with the current highest proportion of smokers based on population.

1. Kingston upon Hull, Lincoln – 26.1% of the population are smokers

Sharing the top spot in this list is Kingston upon Hull and Lincoln who have the joint highest proportion of smokers in the UK with 26.1% of their respective populations being partial to a cigarette.

Home to the famous Lincoln Cathedral, the northern city of Lincoln is packed full of history. It appears that a lot of its residents are also stuck in the past, as over a quarter of them are still in the habit of smoking despite the associated health risks.

In addition to this, the residents of Kingston upon Hull are equally as addicted to smoking. This city also has the biggest population out of all the areas in this top three, which highlights just how many people are putting their health at risk.

3. Barking and Dagenham – 22.4% of the population are smokers

Completing this top three list is the London borough of Barking and Dagenham, whose proportion of smokers currently stands at 22.4%. To lower the proportion of smokers in this area, the local council has put in place some free help services to assist any residents who are interested in putting a stop to their smoking habits.

Top 20 local authorities in the UK with the highest percentage of current smokers

The UK areas with the most smokers


5.9% of residents in Richmond upon Thames are smokers – less than any other area in the UK

It’s not all doom and gloom, as some areas in the UK fall on the opposite end of the scale, being occupied by a low number of smokers compared to population figures. Below is a list of the UK areas with the lowest proportion of current smokers.


Uk areas, fewest smokers.


1. Richmond upon Thames – 5.9% of the population are smokers

Taking the top spot, with only 5.9% of the population currently smoking, is Richmond upon Thames. As well as having the lowest proportion of smokers, this London borough also has the largest population in this top three list, making their position in this ranking all the more impressive!

2. Wokingham – 8.2% of the population are smokers

Falling just shy of the top spot is Wokingham which has the second lowest proportion of smokers in the UK at just 8.2%. It appears that the residents here are very health-conscious as, alongside their low proportion of smokers, this area was recently revealed as being one of the healthiest areas in England and Wales.

3. East Dunbartonshire, Oxford – 8.3% of the population are smokers

With 8.3% of their respective populations currently classed as smokers, it is the Scottish council area of East Dunbartonshire and the English city of Oxford that share the third spot in this ranking.

With their western counterparts making an appearance in the ranking for the highest proportion of smokers, it appears that the residents of East Dunbartonshire are much keener to break their nicotine addiction.

Oxford’s county of Oxfordshire has put forward plans to become the first county in England to ban smoking outdoors in the near future. Based on these plans, it is likely that we will see their low number of smokers decrease even more in the coming years.

Top 20 local authorities in the UK with the lowest percentage of current smokers

The UK areas with the fewest smokers table


Even though some areas of the UK have high proportions of smokers, this doesn’t give us the full picture of how smoking affects the health of residents. Because of this, we have put together a list of the areas in the UK that have been affected the most by smoking-related deaths.


The UK has the highest smoking-related death rate.


1. Glasgow City – 509 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents

Glasgow City currently sees 509 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents which is more than any other area in the UK. With a larger population than other areas in this list, it appears that many Glasgow residents have been affected by the health risks associated with smoking.

2. Dundee City – 448 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents

Dundee, the second Scottish city to feature in this ranking, has the second largest smoking mortality rate in the UK – a total of 448 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents. To tackle the impact of second-hand smoke inhalation, Dundee city council has legislation which prevents people from smoking in certain areas. Initiatives like this are aiming to deter residents from smoking as often, which will hopefully reduce the number of smoking-related deaths in this city.

3. Kingston upon Hull – 420 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents

Making its second appearance in this UK smoking report is Kingston upon Hull with 420 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents. Considering the fact that this city has the highest proportion of smokers in the UK, it should come as no surprise that they feature on this list. With more and more resources becoming available to residents in this area, it is hoped that we will see a decrease in this high mortality rate.


The top 10 most expensive places to live in England where smoking is prevalent.


Smoking has had health repercussions all across the UK, but which areas are home to the lowest proportion of smoking-related deaths?

The UK has the lowest rate of smoking-related deaths.


1. Harrow – 103 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents

Even though Harrow has the smallest number of smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents, they still have a higher mortality rate than they should. Recent data has shown that a large percentage of smokers in Harrow have successfully quit. If this trend continues, then we could see their smoking mortality rate decrease even more over the next few years.

2. Wokingham – 108 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents

Earlier in this UK smoking report it was revealed that Wokingham has the second lowest proportion of smokers. Similarly, this area also has the second lowest mortality rate. With 108 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents, it appears that their stance against smoking is paying off when it comes to saving lives.

3. Richmond upon Thames – 113 smoking-related deaths per 100,000 residents

Richmond upon Thames completes the top three list of UK areas with the lowest smoking mortality rates. Just like Wokingham, you may recognise Richmond upon Thames as they were found to have the lowest proportion of smokers earlier in this report. Despite this, they only appear third in this list which suggests that there are more factors involved in smoking-related deaths than the number of smokers.


England's top 10 most expensive cities to live in, with a focus on smoking.


5 Tips To Help You Quit Smoking

We would love to tell you that the journey to quit the habit of smoking is an easy one, but the reality is that it will be full of ups and downs. There are so many resources out there to help you combat nicotine cravings, including NHS prescriptions and therapy, but we want to make your journey as easy as we can. Below are some tips that we hope you will find useful if you are looking to stop smoking.

1. Create a list of all the benefits that you would notice if you stopped smoking

If you are contemplating quitting but need one extra push to convince you to take the big step, then you should consider creating a list of all the reasons why you would benefit from quitting. Having a list of all the positive health and financial benefits that come with being a non-smoker can help you to visualise the end goal and give you something to work towards.

2. Tell people that you have stopped smoking

After you have taken that brave and important decision to stop smoking, be proud and tell your friends and family! Your loved ones will be right behind you and they will also be a good source of support if you are struggling to beat the cravings. By speaking out loud about your plans to quit, it makes it real which will therefore make you more likely to stick to it.

3. Have a plan just in case you are tempted to start again

When you are trying to overcome a habit, it feels like there are temptations everywhere you turn, but if you have a plan then it will put you in the best sted to stay tobacco-free. For example, if you are outside and your friends are smoking, you should consider having something to occupy yourself, such as chewing a cocktail stick or a lollipop.

4. Stay busy when you have cravings

The initial cravings you will face after you go cold turkey on cigarettes are always the worst, but there are things you can do that will help you overcome these and stay on the right track towards your goal of quitting. If you are always used to smoking in the evenings after work then try taking up a hobby to replace that time you used to smoke. By doing something proactive, such as joining a gym, you can reduce the temptation of tobacco whilst also doing something to improve your health – it’s a win, win!

5. Make use of aids and resources

It is perfectly ok to ask for help, and cutting out smoking from your life is no exception. If you are struggling to combat your cravings then there are loads of resources that you can try. One of the most popular resources is nicotine patches, which deliver small amounts of nicotine to the bloodstream and help to limit the withdrawal symptoms associated with going cold turkey. As well as this, there are lots of apps that you can download which will provide you with inspiration and support if you feel you need it.




We used data from the GOV.UK website to reveal which UK local authorities have the highest and lowest percentage of smokers based on their respective populations.

We used data from the following sources to obtain the smoking mortality rates for each local authority available; Finger Tips (England), Public Health Wales (Wales), Public Health Scotland (Scotland) and the Department of Health (Northern Ireland). However, it should be noted that the methodologies used to calculate the mortality rate for each country may differ based on the range of data sources used.

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