Risk of smoking is strongly linked to socio-economic status and all measures of deprivation. People in routine and manual occupations are more than twice as likely to smoke as people in managerial and professional occupations. 1 Among unemployed people, almost 40% smoke as do around 40% of people with longstanding mental health problems and more than 70% of people who are homeless or in prison. 2 3

Higher rates of smoking are also observed across many other indicators of social disadvantage. These include: 4

  • people with no qualifications
  • people who live in rented housing
  • people who receive income support
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other sexual and gender minority (LGBT+) people.

The majority of smokers start while in their teens with very few smokers taking up the habit after the age of 20. 5 Many factors contribute to an increased likelihood of young people starting to smoke. These include living with parents or siblings who smoke, the level of exposure to tobacco industry marketing and the availability of cheap tobacco. 6

Parental and peer influences on young people’s smoking were specifically identified in local survey data for Hackney. 7 Lower socio-economic status, higher levels of truancy and substance misuse are also associated with higher rates of youth smoking. 8

In Hackney, other causes and risk factors for smoking include belonging to certain ethnic groups (such as Turkish, Vietnamese and Black Caribbean) where strong cultural norms around smoking and other tobacco use are deeply embedded.

See Smoking: Inequalities for a more detailed description of smoking-related inequalities.


  1. Health & Social Care Information Centre, “Statistics on Smoking: England 2015,” 2015.
  2. Health & Social Care Information Centre, “Statistics on Smoking: England 2015,” 2015.
  3. Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Psychiatrists, “Smoking and mental health,” 2013. [Online]. Available: http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/sites/default/files/smoking_and_mental_health_-_full_report_web.pdf. [Accessed 31 October 2016].
  4. ASH, “Smoking Still Kills: Protecting children, reducing inequalities,” 2015.
  5. N. Hopkinson, A. Lester-George, N. Ormiston-Smith, A. Cox and D. Arnott, “Child uptake of smoking by area across the UK,” Thorax, Vols. thoraxjnl-2013-204379, 2013.
  6. J. Leonardi-Bee, M. Jere and J. Britton, “Exposure to parental and sibling smoking and the risk of smoking,” Thorax, vol. 10, no. 847-55, p. 66, 2011.
  7. Rockpool Research Associates, “Healthy living in Hackney: Young people’s health behaviours and attitudes,” 2012.
  8. Information Centre for Health and Social Care, “Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England in 2010,” 2011.