Fringe Box



Smoky Surrey – Number of Guildford Smokers Increases by Nearly a Third

Published on: 16 Oct, 2023
Updated on: 17 Oct, 2023

Image Wikipedia

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

The number of Guildford smokers has increased by 29 per cent, new figures have revealed.

But neighbouring Waverley borough had the biggest spike in smokers in the UK and three other Surrey boroughs joined them in the top 15, nationally.

It is estimated that smoking costs services in Surrey more than £230 million a year and the number of people who lit up rose in eight of the county’s 11 boroughs and districts – but Waverley stands alone at the top.

The number of smokers in the borough more than doubled between 2018 and 2022 – the most recent year the information was collected –  according to data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

In 2018 it was estimated that about 7.1 per cent of adults in Waverley smoked, that leaped to 14.5 per cent in 2022.

Waverley’s 104 per cent increase in smokers is by far the biggest – the next seven councils are all in the 80 percentage growth rate; including Mole Valley which is eighth overall, with an increase of 83.8 per cent, (8 per cent in 2018 climbing to 14.7 per cent in 2022) the Local Democracy Reporting Service learned.

Other Surrey councils that make the 15 areas with the highest increases are Reigate and Banstead, 65.3 per cent growth, and Elmbridge 50.6 per cent.

Cllr Steve Williams

Cllr Steve Williams, (Green, Godalming Binscombe & Charterhouse) the Waverley Borough Council portfolio holder for environment and sustainability said he was “deeply concerned about reports of an increase in smoking in Waverley borough”.

He said: “Smoking presents a serious threat to public health, and the growth of vaping amongst young people and the promotion of vaping products to those who have never smoked is really alarming.”

In addition to Guildford, the three other Surrey council areas that experienced a growth in the percentage of adult smokers were Tandridge (20 per cent), Runnymede (7.2 per cent) and Epsom and Ewell (6.0 per cent).

Smoking continues to be one of the biggest preventable causes of ill health and is a major driver of health inequalities according to Emma Jones, Surrey’s public health lead for cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention.

Action on Smoking and Health estimates smoking in Surrey cost services £230 million a year.

These costs are attributed to productivity loss, healthcare, social care, and fires.

Health chiefs estimate that £24.8m per year is spent as a result of smoking-related hospital admissions as well as the cost of treating smoking-related illness via primary care services.

Ms Jones added: “Not only does quitting smoking reduce the risk of ill health and inequalities to the individual, but it will also have significant cost savings to our wider society.”

To address the growing problem, Surrey County Council has commissioned a stop smoking service delivered by One You Surrey, which it says supports around 1,500 smokers, including pregnant women, to quit each year.

The Surrey Tobacco and Alcohol Alliance is also set to launch its Surrey tobacco control strategy this week to address health inequalities by taking a more “targeted approach to support people to quit smoking for good”.

Data on adult smoking habits is collected using two surveys; the Annual Population Survey provides headline figures for the number of adults who smoke with a more detailed sampling of smoking habits of those aged 16 years by the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

Three Surrey councils where the percentage of adults who smoked fell were: Spelthorne (-27.8 per cent), Surrey Heath (-53.5 per cent) and Woking (-66.9).

Cllr Williams added: “Frimley and Guildford NHS lead on public health in our area and offer a range of support to help people quit, including nicotine replacement therapy to help with withdrawal symptoms. Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve your health.”

Share This Post

Responses to Smoky Surrey – Number of Guildford Smokers Increases by Nearly a Third

  1. Pete Bennett Reply

    October 16, 2023 at 12:49 pm

    I have to say that this is not up to your usual standard of journalism. Can the article please be edited to show more than just % increase/decrease? An increase of nearly 1/3 sounds really serious, but if that means we have gone from 0.1% to 0.13% then it is less of an issue.

    Any increase is worrying, but my guess would be that Guildford is starting from a low baseline. Even the refugees from Ukraine (average 22.2% smokers) could then have a significant impact on the figures. Without a baseline, the figures quoted are meaningless.

    Editor’s note: in 2020 according to Office of National Statistics figures 17.5 per cent of those over 16 in Guildford borough smoked. That’s approximately 24,850 of the estimated population (142,000) at the time. So an increase of 29.2 per cent (the precise increase percentage) would mean an addition of more than 7,000 smokers.

  2. Keith Parkins Reply

    October 16, 2023 at 2:24 pm

    Shocking news

    One small step, make “no smoking” a condition when granting pavement licences for outside seating.

    Nothing worse than sat outside a coffee shop and smoke blown in one’s face.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *