Current Status

Smoking prevalence has reduced since the baseline year of 2006, but the improvement has stalled since 2011. Since the 2006 baseline, the percentage of adult smokers in Scotland has fallen by 2.3 percentage points from 25.4% to 23.1% in 2013.

National Indicator


 Reduce the percentage of adults who smoke

Indicator Measure

Proportion of adults aged 16+ years who are current smokers

Reduce the percentage of adults who smoke

Why is this National Indicator important?

Smoking has an enormous influence on the health of people in Scotland. Despite recent reductions in smoking levels, and early evidence of the positive impact this has on people's health, there are still relatively high levels of smoking in Scotland, particularly amongst certain groups of individuals. It is particularly important to reduce levels of smoking amongst the young, the deprived and pregnant women.

What will influence this National Indicator?

Smoking-uptake is influenced by a variety of social and cultural factors. So, if we are to reduce smoking levels, we need a comprehensive, broad-based, multi-agency programme of action, as set out in the Scottish Government's tobacco action plan 'A Breath of Fresh Air for Scotland' (2004) and the smoking prevention action plan "Scotland's Future is Smoke-free" (2008).

This involves a number of key issues. Firstly, making cigarettes and other tobacco products less available through, for example, effective enforcement of tobacco sales law. Secondly, making it less attractive, particularly to children and young people. This can be achieved through measures to ban advertising and promotion of tobacco and smoking in public places, and measures to educate and promote healthy lifestyles. We can also make cigarettes less affordable through, for example, effective fiscal policy. We must also, of course, have the support mechanisms in place to help smokers to quit.

What is the Government's role?

The strategic framework for tobacco is set out in “Creating a Tobacco-Free Generation A Tobacco Control Strategy for Scotland” which announces the Scottish Government’s ambition for a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034 (defined by smoking prevalence of less than 5%).  This builds on previous strategies: 'A Breath of Fresh Air for Scotland' (2004), 'Better Health, Better Care' (2007) and Scotland 's Future is Smoke-free published in May 2008. Taken together, these set out a range of measures to shift cultural attitudes to smoking, particularly through: smoke-free legislation; bans on the display of tobacco in shops and a ban of sale through automatic vending machines, continued investment in tobacco control activity, including over £15m a year on smoking cessation services and measures to stop young people smoking in the first place.

How is Scotland performing?

While smoking rates among adults have gradually declined from 30.7% in 1999 to 23.1% in 2013, the improvement has stalled in more recent years, with prevalence remaining at around 23% since 2011.

Smoking Prevalence - Scotland 2013

The data for this chart is available at the bottom of the page

Source: Scottish Household Survey

What more do we know about this National Indicator?

The percentage of people who smoke is strongly linked to area deprivation. In 2013, 39 per cent of adults in the most deprived areas of Scotland reported smoking, compared to 11 per cent in the least deprived areas.

The proportion of men and women who smoke is similar, although slightly more men than women smoke.

Smoking prevalence has dropped most sharply amongst younger adults since 2006, and remains highest between ages 25 and 54.

The data is available at the bottom of the page.

Criteria for recent change

This evaluation is based on: any difference within +/- 0.5 percentage points of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. A decrease of 0.5 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas an increase of 0.5 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.

Further Information

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Who are our partners?

NHS Scotland

Local Authorities

Related Strategic Objectives


Wealthier and Fairer

View National Indicator Data

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Title:Reduce the percentage of adults who smoke
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