The number of people who have taken up smoking in Brentwood has almost doubled in four years – with only three other districts nationally recording worse figures.
But at the other end of the scale Maldon has seen the second highest drop in the number of smokers.
The figures came ahead of Rishi Sunak’s plan to prevent children aged 14 now from ever being able to legally buy tobacco.
In 2022 12.8 per cent of people in Brentwood smoked – up 88 per cent from the 6.8 per cent who smoked in 2018.
Just Waverley, in Surrey Babergh in Suffolk and Mid Devon saw higher increases in the number of people smoking.
In the same period the proportion of people over the age 18 in England fell from 14.4 per cent to 12.7.
Essex County Council, responsible for public health, says it shares the government’s ambition to be smoke-free by 2030 and is committed to helping people stop smoking in Essex.
Rishi Sunak announced a plan to raise the legal age of smoking every year by a year so that eventually no-one can buy tobacco at Conservative party conference – just a month after the most recent figures for the prevalence of smoking were released by the ONS.
An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “We share the government’s ambition to be smoke-free by 2030 and are committed to helping people stop smoking in Essex.
“The prevalence of current smokers in Brentwood for 2022 is 12.8 per cent, below Essex and regional comparator (13.2 per cent each) and only slightly higher than the England average of 12.7 per cent.
“However, we are not complacent and will continue to work with our colleagues in the NHS to reduce this number even more and reach our smoke-free goal.
“We offer a range of free support for those wanting to quit for good including online courses, in person support and tools and resources. Over the last year we supported 3000 people through our stop smoking services.
“We also work directly with the NHS in referring patients from Acute, Mental Health and Maternity settings for support.
“Supporting disadvantaged communities to stop smoking is also a priority and we will continue to offer targeted evidence-based interventions.”
However, Maldon has seen a 71 per cent decrease in the number of smokers – there the proportion of the population seen as smokers fell from 15.3 per cent in 2018 to 4.4 per cent in 2022.
Ribble Valley recorded the steepest fall where the prevalence of smoking is zero in 2022 – down from 8.3 per cent in 2018.