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Publication, Part of

Statistics on Smoking, England 2020

Official statistics, National statistics

National Statistics

Data quality statement


This document constitutes a background quality report for the Statistics on Smoking publication.


This annual compendium report presents newly published information on smoking attributable hospital admissions, smoking attributable deaths, prescribing costs for smoking cessation pharmacotherapies and data on the affordability of tobacco and expenditure on tobacco.

Two new years of data have been provided for hospital admissions (2018/19 and 2019/20) and deaths (2018 and 2019) and one year of data for prescribing (2018/19) and affordability and expenditure (2019).

The report also provides links to information on smoking by adults and children drawn together from a variety of sources such as the Health Survey for England and Adult Smoking Habits.


Purpose of document

This data quality statement aims to provide users with an evidence based assessment of quality of the statistical output included in this publication. 

It reports against those of the nine European Statistical System (ESS) quality dimensions and principles appropriate to this output. In doing so, this meets NHS Digital’s obligation to comply with the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) Code of Practice for Statistics, and the following principles in particular:

  • Trustworthiness pillar, principle 6 (Data governance) which states “Organisations should look after people’s information securely and manage data in ways that are consistent with relevant legislation and serve the public good.”
  • Quality pillar, principle 3 (Assured Quality) which states “Producers of statistics and data should explain clearly how they assure themselves that statistics and data are accurate, reliable, coherent and timely.”
  • Value pillar, principle 1 (Relevance to Users) which states “Users of statistics and data should be at the centre of statistical production; their needs should be understood, their views sought and acted upon, and their use of statistics supported.”
  • Value pillar, principle 2 (Accessibility) which states “Statistics and data should be equally available to all, not given to some people before others. They should be published at a sufficient level of detail and remain publicly available.”

The Code of Practice for Statistics is available.


This dimension covers the degree to which the statistical product meets user needs in both coverage and content.

This publication is considered to be of particular interest to central and local government, the NHS and independent sector providers in England and to English NHS commissioning organisations. However, data and findings are likely also to be of interest to a much broader base of users and are widely reported in the media.

Accuracy and reliability

This dimension covers the degree to which the statistical product meets user needs in both coverage and content.

This report is a National Statistic and is produced according to the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Some of the information in this report has been previously published. The sources of the information are trusted sources; the majority being either National or Official Statistics. Most sources referenced in this report include a Methodology section for further information.

Hospital admissions data

The data presented in this report are for inpatients only.

Further general information on HES data quality is available. 

Prescription data

Data on the number of prescription items and Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) for drugs prescribed to help people stop smoking give a measure of how often a prescriber writes a prescription and it is not an ideal measure of the volume of drugs prescribed as different practices may use different durations of supply. The NIC is the basic cost of a drug as listed in the Drug Tariff or price lists; it does not include discounts, prescription charges or fees.

Some prescriptions are recorded against non-CCG cost centres, and include trusts, councils and private companies. This data is included in the national total but will not be allocated to a CCG.

There is no information on drugs supplied direct to patients without prescriptions. Services such as Family Planning Clinics, Out of Hours services, Patient Group Directions, Minor Ailment Schemes can supply direct to patients and do not record these supplies in national datasets.

Survey data

Some of the information signposted to in the report is taken from survey data. Sometimes the mode of data collection used in a survey can have an impact on how respondents answer the questionnaire. For example, surveys conducted via a face-to-face interview such as the Health Survey for England (HSE) provide an opportunity for an interviewer to use a computer to record the respondent’s answers which will improve the quality of the data by ensuring all the questions are completed and not allowing any invalid answers. By comparison data collected on paper forms such as the Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use amongst Young People (SDD) survey will have none of these inbuilt validations.

Face-to-face interviews also provide an opportunity to guide the respondent through any interpretation issues, which is more difficult in a non-face-to-face interview.

Both modes however may suffer from respondents being tempted to give answers which are considered to be more socially acceptable. This could occur either through the surveys being completed in the home when other family members are present, or through the interviewer being present at a face-to-face interview. This effect is reduced in surveys such as SDD which is conducted in schools in exam conditions.

Timeliness and punctuality

Timeliness refers to the time gap between publication and the reference period. Punctuality refers to the gap between planned and actual publication dates.

This compendia report is published annually and presents or signposts the most up-to-date information available.

Accessibility and clarity

Accessibility is the ease with which users are able to access the data, also reflecting the format in which the data are available and the availability of supporting information. Clarity refers to the quality and sufficiency of the metadata, illustrations and accompanying advice.

The report is accessible on the NHS Digital website either in HTML format or as a PDF document. All tables in the report are provided in Excel format and as csv files, as part of the government’s requirement to make public data public.

The publication may be requested in large print or other formats through the NHS Digital contact centre: (please include ‘Statistics on Smoking’ in the subject line).

Coherence and comparability

Coherence is the degree to which data which have been derived from different sources or methods but refer to the same topic are similar. Comparability is the degree to which data can be compared over time and domain.

Smoking attributable hospital admissions

HES data is available from 1989-90 onwards.

Changes to the figures over time need to be interpreted in the context of improvements in data quality and coverage (particularly in earlier years), improvements in coverage of independent sector activity (particularly from 2006-07) and changes in NHS practice.

Trade-offs between output quality components

This dimension describes the extent to which different aspects of quality are balanced against each other.

Most previously published sources referenced in this report include a methodology section which will contain specific information about trade-offs.

Assessment of user needs and perceptions

This dimension covers the processes for finding out about users and uses and their views on the statistical products.

The compendia reports on drug misuse, alcohol, smoking and obesity were subject to a National Statistics consultation in 2016. The report on the findings of the consultation and the NHS Digital response are available.

A further consultation is planned for 2021 to look at possible opportunities for streamlining production of the compendia reports.

NHS Digital is keen to gain a better understanding of the users of this publication and of their needs; feedback is welcome and may be sent to (please include ‘Statistics on Smoking’ in the subject line).

Performance, cost and respondent burden

This dimension describes the effectiveness, efficiency and economy of the statistical output.

All data used within this report is either already published or is part of an existing dataset. Therefore there are no data collected specifically for this report.

Confidentiality, transparency and security

The procedures and policy used to ensure sound confidentiality, security and transparent practices.

Some of the data contained in this publication are National Statistics. The code of practice for statistics is adhered to from collecting the data to publishing. The code of practice for statistics is available. 

NHS Digital Statistical Governance Policy

NHS Digital Freedom of Information Process

NHS Digital Statement of Compliance with Pre-release Order

NHS Digital Disclosure Control Procedure

Last edited: 10 March 2021 2:48 pm