Around 20% of the UK population are smokers, but is smoking more prevalent within certain groups? Do more men smoke than women and is it more common for those that can afford it to smoke? What about ethnic minorities?
In this post (which is statistical in nature), I’ll be discussing the ‘typical’ smoker, explaining which groups of people find quitting most difficult and dispelling a few ‘myths’ about smoking cessation.
All statistical data in this article has been taken from training materials from The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) and I’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to them for their help.
Although slightly more adult males smoke than adult females, male teenagers are less likely to smoke than female teenagers.
Women are more likely to seek and request specialist help to quit smoking but neither gender group find quitting smokin easier than the other.
Women are also more likely to cite weight control as a reason for smoking despite weight-gain being a common reason given for relapse.
Women from ethnic minorities are less likely to smoke than White British Females.
A quarter (25%) of female smokers that become pregnant successfully quit smoking, although this statistic may be unreliable as many women who smoke during pregnancy will deny it.
It is more likely that a woman will quit smoking during her first pregnancy than subsequent pregnancies.
Pregnant women from lower socio-economic groups and teenagers are less likely to successfully quit smoking than pregnant women from other groups.
Smoking prevalence peaks in the mid-twenties and whilst younger smokers are more likely to attempt to quit smoking, older smokers are the ones who are most successful. this may or may not be related to the fact that older smokers are more likely to have made the switch to low-tar cigarettes.
Smoking prevalence is much higher in Bangadeshi men than any other ethnic minority and slightly higher in Pakistani men.
As stated previously, smoking prevalence is lower in women from ethnic minorities.
Men from South Asia may also consume types of smokeless tobacco (e.g. paan).
Asian, afro-carribbean and white ethnic groups are all equally like to seek and obtain help to quit smoking.
People from lower socio-economic groups are more likely to start smoking, more likely to be heavier smokers and more likely to find it harder to quit although they have no less motivation for quitting than people from higher socio-economic groups.
People that suffer with mental illnesses are more likely to smoke and more likely to be heavier smokers. This includes people with psychotic disorders, other addictions such as drug and alcohol abuse, anxiety and depression.
However, people in these groups are just as likely to want to quit smoking as anyone else.
There is no evidence that smoking helps with any of these conditions and, likewise, there is no evidence that quitting smoking worsens any of these conditions.
In fact, in some cases, stopping smoking can actually help with these illnesses. Most smokers report being happier when they have quit (although a few do say that they feel sadder) and quitting smoking can also reduce anxieties.
Nicotine can interfere with some mental illness medicines, so quitting smoking can also reduce the amount of medicine that needs to be taken.