LONDON – The number of people lighting up in Britain has dropped to its lowest level since record keeping started in 1974, The Guardian reports. The Office for National Statistics data found that in 2015, 17.2% of adults in the United Kingdom smoked, a sharp decrease from 20.1% in 2010.
Scotland has the highest levels of smoking at 19.1%, followed by Northern Ireland (19%), Wales (18.1%) and England (16.9%). The number of smokers has fallen the most rapidly in Wales and Scotland. The largest decline since 2010 happened in the 18- to 24-year-old age bracket, which fell five percentage points to 20.7%. Smokers in Great Britain also smoke fewer cigarettes per day, cutting down to 11.3 cigarettes on average.
The data also found that electronic cigarette usage had risen to around 4% of the population in 2015, to around 2.3 million people in the United Kingdom. Four million additional people identified themselves as former e-cig users, while another 2.6 million said they tried electronic cigarettes by didn’t use the devices on a regular basis. Public Health England has touted vaping as possibly 95% more safe than regular tobacco.
Smoking rates are also falling in the United States, with adult smoking rates dropping from 21% in 2005 to 15% in 2015.