Smoking in England could be almost entirely stubbed out by 2040, new analysis commissioned by Philip Morris Limited reveals.

The Frontier findings reveal that England is on track to achieve the government’s goal of a ‘smoke-free generation’ - defined as an adult smoking prevalence rate of 5% or below in just under 22 years’ time, although this could be achieved as soon as 2029 if more recent rapid declines in smoking prevalence are maintained.

However, the findings also exposed some stark regional variations, with more deprived areas tending to have much higher smoking prevalence rates.

As a result, some areas of the country, such as Bristol (The UK home of Imperial Tobacco) and York, could potentially reach 5% smoking prevalence by as early as 2021, Frontier said.

Others, such as Derby and North Lincolnshire, would still be above 5% even beyond 2040, it added.

Smoking is in long-run decline, but since 2012 it has declined at more than twice the rate seen between 1993 and 2011 thanks to the arrival of electronic vaping devices, Frontier said.

In 2017 nationwide smoking prevalence stood at 14.9%, down from 27% in the mid-1990s.

Around 1.5 million former smokers have now converted fully to e-cigs in England.

The ambition to achieve a ‘smoke-free generation’ was set out by the Department of Health in its 2017 Tobacco Control Plan.

As part of the plan, it is also seeking to reduce the prevalence of 15 year olds who regularly smoke to 3% or less by 2022 and to reduce smoking prevalence amongst adults in England from 15.5% to 12%.