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Tobacco and health

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  • Release date: 27 June 2012
  • Period covered: 2012
A report, published by the Public Health Wales Observatory, provides a wide range of information on smoking and its impact on health and health services.

Key points

  • Smoking continues to be the greatest single cause of avoidable mortality in Wales. In people aged 35 and over, smoking causes nearly one in five of all deaths and around one third of the inequality in mortality between the most and least deprived areas.
  • 23 per cent of adults described themselves as current smokers in 2010. This is considerably lower than in the 1970s, but the fall in rates has slowed down in recent years. Overall, smoking is more common in males than in females, although in children and young people the reverse is true.
  • Smoking rates are highest in the most deprived areas of Wales. More than 40 per cent of adults who have never worked or are unemployed are current smokers, with no recent signs of this figure decreasing. Smoking rates in managerial and professional groups have decreased in recent years. These trends are likely to contribute to widening health inequalities in the future.
  • The 2007 ban on smoking in enclosed public places has led to a reduction in adults’ exposure to second-hand smoke. However, 39 per cent of children live in households where at least one adult is a current smoker, and 20 per cent report recent exposure to second-hand smoke in cars.
  • Overall death rates from smoking are falling, but socioeconomic inequalities are widening due to greater reductions in the least deprived parts of Wales than in the most deprived. Lung cancer mortality rates in females have risen in Wales and the UK over the last ten years, whereas in males they have fallen slightly. This is likely a reflection of the differences in the historical patterns of smoking between males and females in the late 20th century.
  • Smoking is estimated to cause around 27,700 hospital admissions each year in Wales. This represents a considerable burden on the health service.


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