Smoking rates in Gwynedd increased last year, new figures show.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 16.5 per cent of adults in Gwynedd smoked in 2022 – up from 15 per cent the year before.

Across Wales the national rate of smokers is lower - 14.1 per cent last year and the year before. It is the lowest level since records began. Across the UK, smoking among adults also fell to its lowest level of 12.9 per cent last year – a drop on the 13.3 per cent reported in 2021.

James Tucker, head of health analysis at the ONS, said the figure is “consistent with the continuing trend towards a decline in smoking prevalence over recent years”.

However, Deborah Arnott, ASH chief executive, said: “Smoking rates are falling, but not nearly fast enough to deliver on the Government’s ambition of 5 per cent or less by 2030. Financial stress and poor mental health are on the rise, which we know makes it harder for smokers to quit.”

She added the Government must “step up” its support for smokers by investing in campaigns to motivate smokers to quit and discourage young people to start.

The ONS figures also showed 5.2 per cent of people aged over 16 used e-cigarettes daily in 2022, up from 4.9 per cent in 2021.

Ms Arnott said the growth in vaping among adult smokers and ex-smokers was welcome as vaping is a very successful aid to quitting smoking. However, she added there is a worrying growth in vaping among teens and young adults with 15.5 per cent of young people aged 16 to 24 years vaping daily or occasionally last year.

She said: “The government’s response to the consultation on youth vaping due imminently must contain concrete measures to prohibit child-friendly branding, and put products out of sight and out of reach in shops, as well as a tax on the pocket money priced disposable vapes most popular with children.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said it is looking to “balance the public health opportunities vaping offers to smokers, while protecting young people and non-smokers from using them”.

The data also revealed men in the UK were more likely to smoke, with 14.6 per cent using cigarettes in 2022 compared to 11.2 per cent of women.

Similarly, men in Gwynedd were more likely to be smokers at 20 per cent compared to 12.8 per cent of women in the area last year.