Yorkshire Smoking Rates Remain Highest In England

05 July 2019

Smoking rates in Yorkshire remain the highest in the country, according to new data shared by Yorkshire Cancer Research. 

The statistics, published this week by Public Health England, reveal a smoking rate of 16.2% in the region, significantly higher than the England average of 14.4%. 

The figures mean there are an estimated 700,000 smokers living in Yorkshire. 

The area with the highest smoking rate is Hull, with 26.1% of residents continuing the habit. Hull is the second highest district in the country behind Lincoln.

The data shows that smoking rates are continuing to slowly decrease over time. In 2011, 21.8% of people in Yorkshire smoked. 

However, rates in both Yorkshire and England have not yet reached the government’s 2020 target of 13%. More than 137,000 people would need to quit smoking in Yorkshire if the region were to achieve this goal. 

137,000 people would need to quit smoking in Yorkshire if the region were to achieve the government's 2020 stop smoking target

Dr Stuart Griffiths, Director of Research and Services at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “While it’s encouraging that rates are gradually declining, the statistics clearly show that smoking remains a huge issue in Yorkshire. 

“Smoking causes at least 15 different types of cancer, including seven in 10 lung cancers. This means around 4,500 people are diagnosed with a smoking-related cancer every year in Yorkshire. We know that lung cancer is the most common cancer in our region. This differs from the national picture, where breast and prostate cancers affect more people than lung cancer.” 

The benefits of quitting smoking can be noticed just 20 minutes after stopping, as the heart rate returns to normal. After one year, the risk of heart disease is about half compared with a person who is still smoking. After 10 years, the risk of lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker. Quitting can also save smokers an average of £1,696 a year, according to the NHS. 

Data provided by the Office of National Statistics shows that an estimated 270,000 people in Yorkshire regularly vape with more than half of vapers stating that the main reason they use e-cigarettes is as an aid to stop smoking. Yorkshire Cancer Research encourages smokers to consider using e-cigarettes as a tool to quit smoking through its Vape to Quit campaign. Vaping with e-cigarettes is at least 95% safer than smoking, according to an evidence review published by Public Health England.

Dr Griffiths added: “We are committed to improving the early diagnosis of lung cancer by helping to introduce screening in various parts of Yorkshire. But we’re also supporting those who wish to quit by investing in stop smoking services. Many smokers are unaware of the range of options available to them. Smokers are three times as likely to quit successfully with support than by using will power alone.”


Data Sources

  1. PHE fingertips, 2019 release - https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/
  2. The fraction of cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 2015 - https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-018-0029-6
  3. Cancer incidence - https://www.cancerdata.nhs.uk/incidence

Local data (by District and Unitary Authority (UA)


Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email: nikki@ycr.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
  • We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
  • Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
  • Current statistics show that 583 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
  • We aim to:
    • Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
    • Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
    • Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
    • Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
  • For further information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Help us do more

Your support will help us save more Yorkshire lives.

Fundraising Events Shop with us Volunteering Cancer in Yorkshire