DUDLEY saw a fall in the rate of adult smokers last year, new figures show.

Office for National Statistics figures recorded the lowest proportion of smokers in the UK to date, with e-cigarettes playing a "major role" in the decline.

The ONS data shows 13.7 per cent of people aged over 18 in Dudley were smokers in 2021, down slightly from 14.2 per cent the year before. It was also a fall from 15.6 per cent five years ago.

Last year, a further 25.8 per cent of adults in the area were ex-smokers while 60.5 per cent had never smoked.

Men in Dudley smoked more than women with 17.4 per cent taking up cigarettes, while 10.2 per cent of women smoked.

Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, welcomed the overall fall in smoking levels, but said the Government must not become "complacent".

Ms Cheeseman added that without a new tobacco plan from the Government, "the vision of being smoke free by 2030" will not be met.

The current tobacco control plan aims to reduce smoking prevalence among adults in England to 12 per cent or less by the end of 2022.

Across the UK, 13.3 per cent of adults smoked cigarettes in 2021, down from 14.0 per cent last year and a significant fall from 20.2 per cent a decade ago.

The ONS said the increase in people taking up e-cigarettes has played a "major role" in the fall with a separate survey finding 7.7 per cent of those aged 16 and over in Great Britain last year used an e-cigarette daily or occasionally.

It was an increase from 2020, when 6.2 per cent of people reported daily or occasional e-cigarette use.

The survey found that the proportion of vapers was highest among current cigarette smokers (24.6 per cent) and ex-cigarette smokers (14.8 per cent), with only 1.7 per cent of people who have never smoked reporting that they vaped.

David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said that councils can help deliver the ambition of eliminating smoking in England by 2030, but needed certainty over long-term funding.

Mr Fothergill added: “Reducing smoking rates among the remaining 5.4 million smokers in England is the single biggest thing we can do to improve the nation’s health."