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Volume 709: debated on Tuesday 24 March 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people died in England and Wales as a result of smoking-related illnesses from 2005 to date. [HL2321]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, National Statistician, to Lord Laird, dated March 2009.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Question asking how many people died in England and Wales as a result of smoking-related illnesses from 2005 to date. (HL2321)

Deaths due to smoking-related illness cannot be directly estimated, as smoking status is not included on the death certificate. However, research published by the then Health Development Agency in 2004 suggested that, in the period 1998 to 2002, an annual average of 92,500 deaths were attributable to smoking in England and Wales.1

1. Twigg L, Moon G, Walker S (2004) The smoking epidemic in England. London; Health Development Agency

Background note

1. A consultation document on premature and avoidable mortality, which included a section on smoking-related deaths, was published on the ONS website in November 2005. A response to this consultation was published on 15 September 2006, which stated that although the consultation revealed support for an indicator of smoking-related deaths, ONS did not have the resources available at that time to take forward this development.

2. The report published by the Health Development Agency in 2004 is available at hdapublications/smoking_epidemic_in_england.jsp.

3. In 2007, the NHS Information Centre (IC) published a report, “Statistics on Smoking: England, 2007”, in which an estimated figure of 81,900 was presented for the number of deaths caused by smoking in England, 2005. This figure was not used in the Answer, since although it is for a more recent year, it relates to England only. The number is very similar to that stated for England only in the HPA report (86,500 deaths). The IC report is available at bulletin/Smoking%202007/Statistics%20on%20Smoking%20 England%202007%20with%20links%20with%20buttons.pdf.