New data shows steady decline in Sheffield smokers

Sheffield skyline

The latest data, published from The Office for National Statistics suggests the number of adults who are smoking in Sheffield is in steady decline, with rates currently at 10.3% for the city. This is below the national average of 12.1% and second lowest across the Yorkshire and Humber region. This means around 20,000 fewer people are smoking in our city since this data was last published in 2019.

This comes as very positive news to all Smokefree Sheffield partners. Together they make up a comprehensive tobacco control programme aimed at reducing the harm caused by smoking in the city. Although the data is to be taken with caution due to the change in the way survey data was collected, overall, all surveys conducted show a downward trend in smoking behaviours.

“Smoking continues to cause significant harm to individuals’ families and communities so this is incredible news, really encouraging to see significant numbers of people giving up. And this is aligned with Smokefree Sheffield partners’ ambition to make smoking a thing of the past,”

– Greg Fell, Director of Public Health Sheffield.

The decline in smoking prevalence comes from years of hardworking and consistent contributions from the tobacco control partners to support smokers to quit and inspire young people to never start. Most smokers start in childhood and by adulthood wish they had never taken up the habit and around two thirds of smokers want to quit. Smokefree Sheffield provides a range of local support for smokers with around 1000 people quitting with help each year.

Around 1000 people a year die in Sheffield from smoking-related illnesses each year and long-term smokers sadly die on average 10 years earlier. By comparison, there have been around 1,400 Covid related deaths in Sheffield to date.

Many will spend years in poor health living with a serious smoking-related illness and every year around 6,000 people are admitted to Sheffield’s hospitals for treatment with smoking-related illnesses.

As well as the personal health cost of smoking, smoking also impacts household income. Currently costing around £10 per day for a pack of 20 cigarettes, and around £5,000 a year. This is money lost to families. Since the data was last published, 20,000 people have quit. That is around £100m locally back into the pockets of families. This is critical to increasing household income where money can be spent on other things such as food, housing, energy, transport and entertainment.

Smokers in disadvantaged communities spend more than smokers from affluent communities on smoking – up to two-thirds of their household income – this is often because they have started at a young age are more addicted and face more barriers to quitting.

Smoking drives over a million people into poverty in the UK, including over a quarter of a million children and keeps people in a cycle of deprivation. This data shows a significant reduction in the number of people smoking and that will make a real difference to lots of families. In addition, the money being saved can be spent in the local economy on goods and services that do not serve the interests and profits of the tobacco industry.

“We still need to do more to achieve our ambition of a smokefree generation by 2025 and help break the cycle but these numbers are encouraging and we are on a significantly better footing to reach our target.”

– Greg Fell, Director of Public Health Sheffield.

More people quitting would also mean fewer people being unable to work due to developing debilitating smoking-related illnesses. For many, an inability to work can lead to a loss in income and in some cases drive families into poverty, relying on benefits and impacting mental wellbeing and self-worth. Quitting smoking can help improve the lives of those who are most disadvantaged financially, physically and mentally.

Each year, social care costs from smoking in Sheffield total £8.7m, with a large portion funded through the local authority budget. This money could be directed to other services if smoking rates continue to decline.

If all smokers were able to quit in Sheffield the societal benefit would be around £112.7m back into the local economy each year, including to the NHS, social care and local businesses – where there would be more opportunity for money to be spent on local goods and services.

“Reducing the number of smokers in Sheffield is a key priority for us, to help people live better lives and tackle the inequality that smoking drives.

We work hard to control the sale of illicit tobacco products and underage sales to prevent young people starting smoking in the first place, as well as supporting people to quit. We’ve seen around 1,000 people per year quitting for at least three months with our stop smoking service, so it’s really positive to see that reflected in the latest data. Fewer people smoking means a happier, healthier, fairer city and that is what we’re striving for.”

– Greg Fell, Director of Public Health Sheffield.

To find out more about the work of Smokefree Sheffield and partners,


Sophie Squire

Account Executive

0114 221 0378 Email Sophie Squire