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Publication, Part of

Statistics on Smoking - England , 2018 [PAS]

Official statistics, National statistics

National Statistics

Part 4: Smoking patterns among young people

This part presents a range of information on cigarette smoking patterns among young people. Smoking prevalence, consumption and trends among different groups of society and geographical areas are explored.

The source of data is the Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People survey (SDD). This is a survey of secondary school pupils in years 7 to 11 (mostly aged 11 to 15) in England, conducted every 2 years and published by NHS Digital. The last survey was in 2016.

Pupils were categorised in three ways based on the responses given:

- Regular smokers (defined as usually smoking at least one cigarette per week);

- Occasional smokers (defined as usually smoking less than one cigarette per week); or

- Non-smokers.

The term ‘current smoker’ used in this part includes regular and occasional smokers.

One of the national ambitions in the government’s new tobacco control plan published in 2017, is to reduce the number of 15 year olds who regularly smoke to 3% or less.  This ambition will be measured via the SDD survey.


Smoking prevalence among young people

Smoking prevalence, by year

In 2016, 19% of pupils reported they had tried smoking at least once, similar to 2014. There has previously been a steady decline since 1996.

6% of pupils were current smokers, and 3% were regular smokers.


Regular smoking prevalence, by sex and age

Similar proportions of boys and girls said they were regular smokers.


The proportion of regular smokers increased with age; from less than 1% of 11 and 12 year olds, to 7% of 15 year olds. 




Smoking among young people: influences and dependence

Exposure to second hand smoke

In the last year, 62% of pupils reported being exposed to second hand smoke in the home1 or in a car2,3.


Influence of smokers at home

Pupils were more likely to smoke themselves if they lived in a household with other smokers; Regular smoking increased from 1% of pupils living with no other smokers, to between 6% and 7% of pupils who did live with other smokers.


Dependency on smoking (regular smokers)

Pupils who smoke regularly tend to see themselves as dependent on the habit.

60% of regular smokers reported that they would find it very or fairly difficult to not smoke for a week, while 74% reported that they would find it very or fairly difficult to give up smoking altogether.


1.  Includes at home or in someone else’s home.    

2.  Some of these pupils reported being exposed to smoke in both a home and a car.

3. A ban on smoking in cars with under 18s present was introduced in October 2015.



Use of e-cigarettes by young people

E-cigarette prevalence, by year

A quarter of pupils (25%) reported they had ever used e-cigarettes. This is up from 22% in 2014.

Current and regular e-cigarette prevalence remain low but have increased from 4% to 6%, and from 1% to 2% respectively since 2014.


Current e-cigarette use, by sex and age

Boys were more likely than girls to be current e-cigarette users.


Current e-cigarette use increased with age: 2% of 11 year olds, to 11% of 15 year olds.


Last edited: 10 July 2018 10:32 am