Cigarettes are becoming an increasingly rare sight in Westminster, as smoking rates hit a seven-year low, figures show.
Public Health England says the habit is in terminal decline and that a smoke-free generation is in sight.
But campaign group Action on Smoking and Health has called on the Government to impose a “polluter pays” levy on the tobacco industry to help end smoking by 2035.
The latest Office for National Statistics data shows that 11.5% of people aged 18 and over in Westminster were smokers last year.
It was the lowest smoking rate for seven years – in 2012, it was 17.7%.
Of the non-smokers in Westminster, 22.3% had kicked the habit and 66.1% had never lit up.
Westminster’s smoking rate was lower than across London – 13.9% smoked across the region.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: “Smoking in England is in terminal decline, with the lowest number of smokers ever and a smoke-free generation now in sight.
“This is really positive news in the battle against the nation’s biggest killer.
“Unfortunately, smoking rates remain high among people on lower incomes and those experiencing mental health problems, and every effort and means to support them quitting is where we need to most focus.”
Westminster reflects the trend across England, where the smoking rate also hit a seven-year low, at 14.4%.
The national figures show unemployed people were almost twice as likely to smoke as those with jobs.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, called on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock to include a pledge to end smoking by 2035 in the coming Prevention Green Paper.
The document will set out how the Government plans to put prevention at the heart of public health care.
She said: “Ending smoking by 2035 is a worthy ambition for the Prevention Green Paper.
“To do so would make the single most significant contribution to delivering the Government’s goal of five extra healthy years of life, while narrowing health inequalities between the richest and poorest.
“However, to achieve the end of smoking will require innovative new policies and funding – business as usual will not suffice.
“The Government must respond to public demand and impose a ‘polluter pays’ levy on the tobacco industry, as well as implementing tougher laws on smoking, such as increasing the age of sale for cigarettes to 21.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said it had taken bold action to reduce smoking rates, including the introduction of standardised packaging for cigarettes, making it illegal to smoke in a car with a child, and covering up tobacco products in shops.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.
Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.