Tackling youth smoking: Targeting places not just groups

Understanding Society is used to investigate teenage smoking in a Public Health England and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence commissioned project. 


The small area estimates on youth smoking have been incorporated into PHE’s Local Health tool, which aims to improve availability and accessibility for health and health-related information in England. Local Health is an interactive geo-mapping website designed to help local government and health services make decisions and plans to improve local people’s health and reduce health inequalities. This provides user-friendly data access and visualisation to the health service, local government, voluntary organisations and the public.

In addition the estimates have been included in PHE’s Local Tobacco Control Profiles that provide a snapshot of the extent of tobacco use, tobacco related harm, and measures being taken to reduce this harm at a local level. They have been designed to help local government and health services to assess the effect of tobacco use on their local populations. They will inform commissioning and planning decisions to tackle tobacco use and improve the health of local communities. 

The findings also received print and online media attention. 

Findings from the research

For the first time this research shows that there are large variations in youth smoking across the small areas of England. For regular smokers aged 16 to 17 year old, areas with high estimates included Hartlepool (19.6%), Gateshead (19.3%), Plymouth (18.9%), South Tyneside (19.6%) and Kingston upon Hull (20.7%). Areas with the lower estimates were concentrated in Greater London, including Harrow (5.7%), Newham (7.0%), Redbridge (6.5%) and Brent (7.0%). 

Nationally youth smoking rates are falling and are at their lowest ever levels but these estimates highlight those communities where estimates are likely to be higher than the norm.

Further information

Public Health England, From evidence into action: opportunities to protect and improve the nation’s health, October 2014

Local Health: www.localhealth.org.uk
PHE Local Tobacco Control Profiles: www.tobaccoprofiles.info

Download the case study: Tackling youth smoking: Targeting places not just groups