SPECTRUM Consortium

Monitoring smoking behaviour across Scotland, Wales, and England

SPECTRUM Research Fellow, Dr Loren Kock, outlines recent progress from the Smoking Toolkit Study following the launch of their new website.

Headshot of Loren Kock
Dr Loren Kock, SPECTRUM Research Fellow, UCL

Headline trends from the Smoking Toolkit Study are now available on a new interactive website, supporting access to national data on smoking behaviour. 

What is the Smoking Toolkit Study?

The Smoking Toolkit Study (STS) is a national survey that has collected detailed data on smoking behaviour from over 300,000 individuals in England between 2006 and 2020. From October 2020, as part of the SPECTRUM consortium’s programme of research, the STS was expanded into Scotland and Wales. Given SPECTRUM’s focus on tobacco and alcohol as major causes of NCDs and related health inequalities, expanding the data source to cover Great Britain provides a more comprehensive and detailed window into population behaviours within the unhealthy commodity system.

Each month a new sample of approximately 2,450 adults aged 18+ years across Great Britain are interviewed about important smoking related outcomes such as cigarette smoking prevalence, smoking and quitting behaviours (quit attempts, motivation to quit, dependence), methods used to quit smoking and e-cigarette use. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, studies were also updated to include a question with the coronavirus outbreak as a motive to stop smoking.

Representative and timely updates

The STS is designed to be representative of the population in Great Britain, and as a monthly survey it has the granularity to detect and report trends and sociodemographic differences that might be missed by other health surveys that collect data less frequently.

The website is central to this. Monthly updates on the interactive site allow researchers, policymakers, and members of the public to closely track headline smoking trends and monitor progress towards reducing the prevalence of smoking and its associated harms. 

Looking forward - comparing the outcomes of divergent national policies

Publication of the respective Scotland, Wales and England tobacco control plans is imminent, which will detail each nation’s plans and targets for reducing smoking prevalence.

The dedicated STS websites for each nation will inform and stimulate research into the impact of new policies on smoking outcomes and act as a window for the comparison of trends across Great Britain in response to potentially divergent devolved government policies. The sites also have dedicated pages for trends in e-cigarette use, providing greater insight into the influence of the behaviour on smoking prevalence across Scotland and Wales.

Finally, websites highlighting key trends in Alcohol use from the sibling survey ‘The Alcohol Toolkit Study’ will launch in Autumn 2021.

Visit www.smokinginscotland.info and www.smokinginwales.info to start exploring the latest trends. A dropdown option in the top right corner of each site also allows easy navigation between nations.

If you’d like to be updated whenever the latest month of data has been published to the STS website, please sign up to the mailing list by clicking on the option at the bottom of each page.