THE number of people smoking in Portsmouth has dropped by more than four per cent since 2012.
Figures released by Public Health England show that in the city, the number of smokers between 2012 and 2015 dropped by 4.3 per cent.
Nationally, 16.9 per cent of the population are smokers - the lowest level since records began.
In the south east, the figure has dropped by two per cent from 17.9 per cent to 15.9 per cent.
Matt Smith, acting director of Public Health at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘It’s great to see smoking rates coming down as we know that quitting smoking is the single best thing someone can do for their health.
‘Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the country and is a key cause of cancers (particularly lung cancer), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and circulatory disease.
‘Portsmouth has also seen a reduction in smoking, and at a greater level, with a 4.3 per cent drop between 2012 and 2015.
‘However, we’re still above the England average for smoking and this is something we’re working hard to tackle.’
He added: ‘There is lots of support available to help someone quit. This can either be found by searching One You on portsmouth.gov.uk or you can get involved in Stoptober.
‘This is a great campaign, which we’re fully behind as we’ve seen it be the start of someone’s smokefree future.’
The sale of cigarettes has dropped in the south and south east by 12.68 per cent in 2015, according to the latest data from Nielsen.
The smoking rates were released as Public Health England launched its annual Stoptober campaign to encourage smokers to quit for the month of October.
If people give up the habit for 28 days they are five times more likely to quit for good, the health body said.
They added in England there are now twice as many ex-smokers (14.6m people) than current smokers (7.2m people).
Last year, out of the 2.5m smokers who made a quit attempt, 20 per cent were successful.
Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: ‘While it is amazing that there are over twice as many ex-smokers as current smokers in England, there are still over seven million people regularly lighting up.
‘Alongside unhealthy diet, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable early death in England, accounting for over 78,000 deaths a year. Quitters will soon see they have reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation. Stopping smoking is the best thing a smoker can do to improve their health.’