According to an Office for National Statistics survey spanning 40 years, the health warnings may finally be sinking in.
While in 1974 a massive 45% of the adult population in Britain smoked, that number has now dropped to 20%. This is good news for everyone, as smoking is widely known to cause heart problems and lung cancer.
While the number of people who drink has risen dramatically (by 40% since 1974), the frequency of consumption has dropped in recent years. Between 2005 and 2011, the percentage of men who said they drank alcohol at least five days a week dropped by 6%, while for women it dropped by 4%.
Although these figures are encouraging, there is still a long way to go. Alan Maryon-Davis of King’s College London believes the key to reducing the numbers further lies in education. If the public can be better warned of the severe health problems caused by drinking and smoking, they can start taking responsibility for their own lifestyles rather than waiting until it is too late.
He said: “There is more work to be done educating the public about the dangers of drink. We haven’t got labelling of drinks right and there is work to be done in terms of drinks promotions and the use of social media to target young people.”
The ONS figures also revealed that men are more likely to smoke than women, single people are more likely to smoke than married people, and unemployed people are more likely to smoke than those with jobs.
Legislation plays a crucial role in the lifestyles of British citizens. By imposing tougher restrictions, the message that these activities are bad for us will begin to sink in. In addition to the hugely effective ban on smoking in public, the government plans to ban smoking in cars with children and to introduce standardised cigarette packaging to clamp down on the glamorisation of smoking.
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