“Last smoke” won’t happen until after 2050, new research predicts

Last Smoke UK

Bristol, Wokingham and York to be the first parts of England to go smoke free in mid 2020s

England will not go smoke free until after 2050, according to new research conducted by Frontier Economics that was commissioned by Philip Morris Limited (PML).  However, there are stark variations in the predicted rate of decline in different parts of the country, with one in ten areas predicted to still be smoking in 32 years’ time and nearly a quarter (23%) predicted to have stopped before 2030.

The research established the parts of England* forecast to stop smoking soonest – and those predicted to still be smoking after 2050.
• Areas set to go smoke free quickest are Bristol (in 2024), Wokingham and York (both 2026).
• Areas expected to still be smoking beyond 2050 include North Lincolnshire, Derby and Cheshire East. 

The research also highlights a variety of measures that could accelerate the decline in cigarette smokers. These include increasing the number of smokers using NHS Stop Smoking services and getting more switching to better alternatives like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco.

The new figures are detailed on a website launched by PML - www.lastsmoke.co.uk – which presents ONS data for postcode areas through an interactive tool. It also includes a powerful call to action to encourage communities to go smoke free faster.
The findings of the report include:

• Regional falls in smoking rates from 2011 to 2017 varied from 10% to 1% - with one area, Cheshire East, actually seeing a rise in smoking prevalence in 2017 than six years earlier.
• Significant differences in smoking prevalence across England, with 3% of local authorities having a rate of over 20% while 4% have a rate of between 5% and 10%.

• Deprived areas** have a higher prevalence rate of smokers. The three areas with the highest rates of smoking – Kingston upon Hull, Blackpool and North Lincolnshire – have an average rate of 22.1% compared to an average rate of 8.8% among the three lowest, which are Rutland, York and Wokingham.

The Last Smoke website also includes other proposals that could accelerate the end of cigarettes in the country. These include more independent research into smoking alternatives, targeted government campaigns through school and social media to stop smoking in the first place and tackling the trade in illicit cigarettes by taking tougher action against criminal gangs.

Mark MacGregor, UK Corporate Affairs Director of PML, said: “Our business is committed to going smoke free as fast as possible and ultimately stopping selling cigarettes altogether. What this research reveals is the huge variations in the decline in smoking in different parts of the country. We want to play our part in working with local businesses, retailers and councils in the areas with highest smoking rates. It is not going to be easy getting smokers in these areas to stop. One of the keys to success will be ensuring they understand that there are more alternative options than ever that can help them give up cigarettes for good.”

Table 1: Bottom 10 local authorities with latest “last smoke” dates

Local Authority

2017 Prevalence Rate

Total % point change (2011-17)

Last Smoke date

North Lincolnshire



After 2050




After 2050

Cheshire East



After 2050




After 2050

Central Bedfordshire



After 2050

North Yorkshire



After 2050




After 2050




After 2050

Bath & North East Somerset



After 2050





Table 2: Top 10 local authorities with earliest “last smoke” dates

Local Authority

2017 Prevalence Rate

Total % point change (2011-17)

Last Smoke date

City of Bristol












East Riding of Yorkshire




Blackburn with Darwen




















Milton Keynes




Notes to Editors
*Frontier Economics used ONS (2018) prevalence data published at the Local Authority
level to explore current patterns of prevalence and recent trends (2011 – 2017). The ONS data is published at the Lower Tier Local Authority level (England is divided into 326 areas). Due to sample size limitations, Frontier Economics aggregated this data to the Upper Tier Local Authority level (England is divided into 90 areas).

**The English Indices of Deprivation 2015 are based on 37 separate indicators, organised across seven distinct domains of deprivation which are combined, using appropriate weights, to calculate the Index of Multiple Deprivation. The domains cover Income, Employment, Health & Disability, Education, Skills & Training, Crime, Housing and Living Environment.

About Philip Morris International
We are a leading international tobacco company engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes and other nicotine-containing products in markets outside the United States of America. We’re building our future on smoke-free products that are a much better consumer choice than continuing to smoke cigarettes. Through multidisciplinary capabilities in product development, state-of-the-art facilities and scientific substantiation, we aim to ensure that our smoke-free products meet adult consumer preferences and rigorous regulatory requirements. Our vision is that these products ultimately replace cigarettes to the benefit of adult smokers, society, our company and our shareholders. For more information, see our PMI and PMIScience websites.

About Philip Morris Limited
Philip Morris Limited (PM UK) is the UK and Ireland affiliate of PMI. The company is responsible for the merchandising of PMI brands in the UK. These include IQOS, the UK’s first heated tobacco device and IQOS MESH, our premium vaping product along with a number of other e-cigarette brands.

About Smoke-Free Future
Philip Morris has made a commitment to develop, market and sell smoke-free alternatives, and encourage adult smokers to switch to these alternatives, as quickly as possible around the world.

For media enquiries in UK, please contact Shelley Frosdick on:
Phone: 020 7025 1373 - Email: pml@pha-media.com

For international media enquiries, please contact Ryan Sparrow on:
Phone: +41 (0)58 242 45 00 - Email: ryan.sparrow@pmi.com

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