Facts about smoking in Wakefield

Smoking is the main preventable cause of death and illness in the UK. On average, lifelong smokers lose about 10 years of life, with half of them dying earlier than non-smokers.

In Wakefield, smoking is responsible for approximately one-third of deaths. It leads to around 4,700 hospital admissions each year. According to estimates from the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) ready reckoner tool, smoking costs society in Wakefield around £126.57 million per year.

How common is smoking in Wakefield?

In recent years the number of smokers has fallen in Wakefield, mirroring the trend seen across England. Although the number of smokers has fallen it is still higher than the national average. In 2021, 15.6% of the adult Wakefield population were smokers compared to 13% in England.

This reduction of Wakefield smoking rates is thanks to local and national initiatives.

What kind of people are more likely to smoke?

There are large inequalities in smoking prevalence. People from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be smokers and to suffer from smoking-related disease and premature death. Wards such as Airedale & Ferry Fryston (30.2%), Wakefield East (27.2%) and Hemsworth (25.1%) are amongst the areas with the highest smoking prevalence rates.

Smoking is far more common amongst unskilled and low-income workers than amongst professional high earners. In Wakefield, smoking prevalence in adults in routine and manual occupations is 31%. This is high when compared to the England average of 24.5% and 25.5% for Yorkshire and Humber.

It is estimated that a third of households in Wakefield with a smoker fall below the poverty line. If these smokers were to quit, 3,638 households in Wakefield would be elevated out of poverty.

Smoking in Pregnancy

In 2021/22, 14.7% of women were smokers at the time of delivery.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of:

  • stillbirth
  • babies born underdeveloped and in poor health

Smoking in pregnancy causes up to the following every year in the UK:

  • 2,200 premature births
  • 5,000 miscarriages
  • 300 perinatal deaths

Children and Young People

Most people start smoking and become addicted to tobacco when they are children. Children are three times more likely to smoke if they grow up in an environment where those around them smoke. In Wakefield, 8.2% of 15-year-olds smoke which is comparable with the national average.


Vaping is a useful alternative for adults who are wanting to quit smoking. Vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes as it doesn’t contain the toxic chemicals like tar and carbon monoxide.

Vaping is a less harmful option compared to cigarettes, but it is not without risks and can cause short-term side effects. The long-term effects are currently unknown.

It is illegal to sell vapes to under 18s and the advice to children and young people is if you don’t smoke, don’t start to vape.

To learn more about the facts of vaping, watch this animation.


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