The latest data gathered by the Office for National Statistics through its large-scale Annual Population Survey reveals that the rate of smoking in 2015 compared to 2012 was up in Harrow, Haringey, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston, Newham and Tower Hamlets.
The biggest increase, of nearly 14%, was in Harrow, but the overall level of smoking remains low in the borough. Haringey, Newham and Tower Hamlets experienced an increase on rates that are among the highest in London.
Although the increases are mostly small they are significant in the context of falling rates across the rest of the capital. The average rate for London has gone down from 18.2% who said they were smokers in 2012 to 16.3% in 2015. In Redbridge the rate fell by more than 30% over that period, according to the ONS figures. There were also steep declines in Brent and Bromley.
The data does not reveal the reason behind these changes. It may be the consequence of changing habits or changes in the make up of the population in areas. It may be due to people aswering questions more honestly, as the survey relies on individuals to define themselves as smokers.
The rate of smoking in London is among the lowest for any region in England. Across England 16.9% of people say that they are smokers. The rate is lower than that in 20 London boroughs. The lowest rate in London is 11.5% in Redbridge, but it is nearly double that in Haringey where 22% of people said they smoked in 2015. In five boroughs – Haringey, Lambeth, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham – two or more in every ten people smoke.
Apart from Redbridge, Richmond, Brent and Bromley all have a rate of smoking at around 12% or lower.
There are a number of measures of smoking carried out across the country. A survey at GP surgeries of people over 15 carried out over two year periods found the level of smoking in London fractionally higher in 2014/15 than the most recent ONS data, It also recorded small rises in a handful of boroughs.