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The figures for 2020 are expected to show a small increase in the number of smokers Britain for the first time since the 1970s. Ministers are committed to a ‘smoke-free’ Britain by 2030 which would see fewer than five per cent of the adult population smoking tobacco. Tobacco industry insiders say sales have been up during the pandemic as more people struggled with the anxiety and stress caused by lockdowns.

Earlier this year Health Sec Sajid Javid allowed doctors to prescribe vaping to smokers who want to quit.