SOUTHAMPTON could be smoke-free as soon as 2040, new research has predicted.

According to new research conducted by Frontier Economics, commissioned by Philip Morris Limited (PML), the city could be one of the first cities to go smoke-free in the UK.

Southampton is set to be in the top 10 for going completely smoke-free first, reaching the target after 2040 with cities Manchester (2029), Sheffield (2030) and Liverpool (2032) take the top three spots.

Southampton sits in the bottom third of the rankings of areas across the whole country to reach the smoke-free target, and is at least 12 years behind West Berkshire (2028) which will likely be the first area in the South East to “unsmoke”.

Mark MacGregor, Director of External Affairs at PML, said: “Over 4 million smokers need to be persuaded to quit altogether or switch to a less harmful alternative if the Government is to realise its smoke-free ambition.

"Critical to achieving that goal will be ensuring that smokers in Southampton have the facts about alternatives, like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco.

"Currently, too many smokers believe that the alternatives are as harmful as smoking or are simply unaware that they exist.”

England will not see the end of smoking until after 2050 and the report finds that there is now a gap of almost 30 years separating the first and last parts of England predicted to go smoke-free.

The report predicts that the Government will miss its “smoke-free” goal of 2030 by around a decade, unless further action is taken.

To meet its target, a total of over four million smokers would need to quit or switch to a less harmful alternative - an extra 2.3 million over and above existing forecasts for the next 11 years.

The research also highlights a variety of measures and policy interventions that could speed up the decline in cigarette smokers to just five per cent by 2030.

These include a rapid increase in the number of smokers switching to smoke-free alternatives and reversing the decline in smokers quitting through NHS Stop Smoking Services.

The report found that, since 2012, smoking in England has declined at almost twice the rate seen between 1993 and 2011, and the downward trend in smoking prevalence is likely due in part to greater use of e-cigarettes.

However, despite there being 3.2 million e-cigarette users in Great Britain1, the growth of vaping is now slowing.

Data from ASH indicates that there were only 300,000 new vapers in 2018 in Great Britain, compared with 800,000 in 2014.