Cigarettes and alcohol

The Office for National Statistics has published the latest installment of their annual General Household Survey (GHS) which provides data on smoking and drinking among adults in Great Britain, with figures available by gender, age and government office region.


The report states that care should be taken in interpreting the results for regional variation in any one year because sample sizes in some regions are small, making them subject to relatively high levels of sampling error but the published figures indicate that 25% of men and 21% of women in the West Midlands are current cigarette smokers, slightly higher than the all-England rates of 22% and 19% respectively. 54% of the West Midlands adult population have never or only occasionally smoked.

Almost one-third of 20-24 year olds in Great Britain are current smokers according to the survey.


Once again acknowledging the risk of sampling error due to sample sizes, the report indicates that with 38% of men and 28% of women, the West Midlands has the lowest rates of adults who drank more than the recommended daily limit during the week before being interviewed as part of the survey.

17% of adults in the region had drank on five or more days during the preceding week, the same level as for England as a whole.

The same broad pattern of regional variation in daily drinking has been evident since these questions were first included in the 1998 survey.


Drinking reportIn a related report, the ONS has also published its Omnibus survey, Drinking: Adults’ behaviour and knowledge in 2008, which assesses what people drink, patterns of drinking, and knowledge of recommended daily limits and the effects of excessive alcohol consumption.

Both the GHS and the Omnibus survey are used to monitor trends in the alcohol consumption of different groups in the general population, and their awareness of drinking related issues. In recent years the GHS has also been used to monitor the extent to which people follow recommendations from the medical profession about safe levels of drinking.

Read the reports

These reports and further research are available in the Regional Resource Catalogue. You may also be interested in a previous Observations post, Substance misuse in the West Midlands.

2 Responses

  1. Good article !!
    As a recovering alcoholic, now 21 mos less 6 days, I do smoke a lot less, not drinking………!!! But I found it was (and this is 4-6 yrs ago too) the thing to do….!
    Going out at lunch or after work with the Big-Shots,
    who drank & smoked a lot, so you just joined in…..!
    Not to smart, was it….???
    Hopefully now, with such limited smoking area’s, our youth won’t be sucked in as easily as us old cronies were !!

  2. The West Midlands Public Health Observatory are holding a seminar on Smoking and Alcohol on Wednesday 11 February 2009 from 2.00-4.00pm.

    The seminar involves speakers from the Public Health Observatory and the National Drug Treatment Monitoring Service:

    NI39 Alcohol Indicator and Available Reports (George Fowajuh – West Midlands Public Health Observatory)

    Alcohol Treatment Providers (Nicky Gillard & Sally Crick – National Drug Treatment Monitoring Service)

    Monitoring Prevalence and Smoking Cessation Services (Dr John Kemm – West Midlands Public Health Observatory)

    For further information and to book onto the seminar, visit their website.

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