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Publication, Part of

Health and Wellbeing of 15 year olds in England: Smoking Prevalence - Findings from the What About YOUth? Survey 2014

Publication Date:
Date Range:
22 Sep 2014 to 09 Jan 2015


What About YOUth? 2014 (WAY 2014) is a newly-established survey designed to collect robust local authority (LA) level data on a range of health behaviours amongst 15 year-olds. Therefore, this is also the first report to be published from the survey, covering the smoking findings only in order to meet the PHOF release data requirements.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was commissioned by the Department of Health to run the survey in direct response to the Children and Young People's Health Outcomes Forum. This Forum identified gaps in the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) and other key health behaviour measures relating to young people. HSCIC contracted Ipsos MORI to carry out the survey.

The PHOF included a placeholder indicator on smoking prevalence at age 15 and the data from this survey will now become the source for this PHOF indicator. This report covers all the information required for the PHOF on smoking prevalence plus other information on attitudes to smoking, e-cigarette use and use of other tobacco products (such as shisha) and will allow comparisons between LAs and against the national position.

The smoking prevalence findings needed for the PHOF have also been published by Public Health England (PHE) on 4 August 2015 via their Fingertips tool on their website (see resource links).

WAY 2014 is the first survey to be conducted of its kind and it is hoped that the survey will be repeated in order to form a time series of comparable data on a range of indicators for 15 year-olds across England. Other than smoking, data has been collected on other topics including general health, diet, use of free time, physical activity, drinking, emotional wellbeing, drugs and bullying. HSCIC plan to publish a main report covering all the key findings from the survey in December 2015. This is ground-breaking for LAs as new data will become available to better inform local policy making.


  • 24 per cent of young people had ever smoked.
  • 8 per cent of young people were current smokers.
  • Girls were more likely than boys to have ever smoked (28 per cent and 21 per cent respectively).
  • Over a quarter of young people in the most deprived areas had ever smoked (27 per cent), compared to just over a fifth of young people in the least deprived areas (21 per cent).
  • Young people from a BME background were less likely to say they had ever smoked than young people from a white background (17 per cent and 26 per cent respectively).
  • The region with the lowest prevalence of ever smoking was London where 21 per cent of young people had ever smoked compared with 28 per cent in the North East.
  • 15 per cent of young people had ever used other tobacco products.


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Last edited: 5 February 2019 12:40 pm