While smoking prevalence overall has declined significantly in recent years, both locally and nationally (see the Comparisons with other areas and over time subsection), it remains much higher in disadvantaged and socially marginalised groups.

In England, the premature death rate is more than three times higher in the lowest compared to the highest socio-economic groups.  Smoking is a key driver of this inequality – more than half of the difference in premature deaths between the highest and lowest socio-economic groups is attributable to differences in smoking prevalence rates. 5

The higher prevalence of smoking in deprived communities is compounded by more frequent and more intensive smoking in these groups. On average, smokers in lower socio-economic groups start smoking earlier in the day, smoke more cigarettes per day, and consume more nicotine per cigarette than more affluent smokers. 67

This inequality is also reflected in smoking in pregnancy, with pregnant women in unskilled occupations being five times more likely to smoke than professionals. 8

References

  1. A. Amos, L. Bauld, S. P. Sarah Hill, J. Robinson, D. Clifford, J. Fidler, R. HIscock and L. Laverty, “Tobacco control, inequalities in health and action at the local level in England,” Public Health Research Consortium, 2011.
  2. Office for National Statistics, “General Lifestyle Survey, 2011,” 2013.
  3. J. Fidler, M. Jarvis, J. Mindell and R. West, “Nicotine intake in cigarette smokers in England: distribution and demographic correlates,” Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev, no. 17, pp. 3331-3336, 2008.
  4. Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians, “Nicotine addiction in Britain,” 2000.
  5. A. Amos, L. Bauld, S. P. Sarah Hill, J. Robinson, D. Clifford, J. Fidler, R. HIscock and L. Laverty, “Tobacco control, inequalities in health and action at the local level in England,” Public Health Research Consortium, 2011.
  6. Office for National Statistics, “General Lifestyle Survey, 2011,” 2013.
  7. J. Fidler, M. Jarvis, J. Mindell and R. West, “Nicotine intake in cigarette smokers in England: distribution and demographic correlates,” Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev, no. 17, pp. 3331-3336, 2008.
  8. Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians, “Nicotine addiction in Britain,” 2000.