Edition 2021

Foto omschrijving: Woman with laptop at her window, holding a smoking cigarette

How many adults smoke?

Twenty percent of the Dutch population aged 18 years and over were smoking in 2020, while 34 percent said they had smoked in the past. The share of smokers has declined from 26 percent in 2015. On the other hand, the share of ex-smokers has increased (from 31 percent in 2015). More and more adults have never smoked: 46 percent in 2020, against 43 percent in 2015.

How many adults smoke?23%smoke35%quit smoking42%have never smoked18%smoke32%quit smoking50%have never smoked

Men are more likely to be smokers; in 2020, 23 percent of men smoked compared with 18 percent of women. Over one-third of men and just under one-third of women have smoked in the past, but have now stopped. Half of the women have never smoked, against 42 percent of men.

Fewer smokers and more older ex-smokers

One-quarter of 18 to 29‑year-olds smoke occasionally, while 6 percent of over-75s smoke. There are more ex-smokers as people become older: 12 percent of people aged 18 to 29 years, and more than half of over‑65s. The share of people who have never smoked actually decreases with age: from 63 percent among 18 to 29‑year‑olds to 31 percent among 65 to 74‑year‑olds. Over-75s are more likely never to have smoked (42 percent) than people aged 65 to 74 years.

Smoking behaviour of adults, 2020 (%)
Leeftijd Smokers Former smokers Non-smokers
18-29 yrs 24.9 12.2 62.8
30-39 yrs 25.6 24.2 50.3
40-49 yrs 23.2 28.1 48.7
50-54 yrs 21.6 34.1 44.3
55-64 yrs 19.1 43.5 37.4
65-74 yrs 14.9 54.4 30.8
75 yrs and over 5.6 52.8 41.6

Smoking and level of education

People aged 25 years and over with a high level of education (university Master/PhD) have the lowest smoking rate: 10 percent. In this group, 60 percent say they have never smoked. Those with other education levels include more smokers and ex-smokers, and fewer people who have never smoked.

Smoking behaviour by level of education, 2020 (%)
Onderwijsniveau Smokers Former smokers Non-smokers
Primary education 21.8 39.2 38.9
VMBO, MBO-1, AVO 24.4 41.7 33.9
HAVO, VWO, MBO 23.4 37.7 38.9
HBO, WO Bachelor 15.3 34.4 50.3
WO Master, PhD 10.3 29.9 59.8
Unknown 20.3 30.3 49.4

Fewer passive smokers

If someone does not smoke, but does inhale the tobacco smoke of another person, this is called passive smoking.noot1 The share of non-smokers aged 18 years and over who indicated they were never or almost never exposed to passive smoking rose from 75 percent in 2019 to 79 percent in 2020. The share of non-smokers who were exposed to secondhand smoke (but not every day) fell from 20 percent in 2019 to 16 percent in 2020.

The questions

Noten

Passive smoking (SHS exposure)

Secondhand smoking exposure, also known as passive smoking, refers to inhalation of environmental tobacco smoke. This applies to passive smoking in an indoor environment by people who are not smoking themselves. The survey question was: ‘How often are you/is your child exposed to tobacco smoke of others indoors?’ The optional answers were: 1. Never or almost never. 2 Less than once a week. 3. At least once a week, but not every day. 4. Every day for less than an hour a day. 5. Every day for at least an hour a day. Based on this question, a classification was made as follows:

  • (Almost) never

Percentage share of people answering ‘Never or almost never’ to the survey question: ‘How often are you/is your child exposed to tobacco smoke of others indoors?’ This question has been included in the questionnaire since 2019.

  • Not every day

Percentage share of people answering ‘Less than once a week’ or ‘At least once a week, but not every day’ to the survey question: ‘How often are you/is your child exposed to tobacco smoke of others indoors?’ This question has been included in the questionnaire since 2019.

  • Every day, for less than an hour

Percentage share of people answering ‘Every day for less than an hour’ to the survey question: ‘How often are you/is your child exposed to tobacco smoke of others indoors?’ This question has been included in the questionnaire since 2019.

  • Every day for at least an hour

Percentage share of people answering ‘Every day for at least an hour’ to the survey question: ‘How often are you/is your child exposed to tobacco smoke of others indoors?’ This question has been included in the questionnaire since 2019.

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Contributors

Concept & image editor

Irene van Kuik

Infographics

Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek

Editors

Ronald van der Bie

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma

Translators

Frans Dinnissen

Gaby de Vet

Taalcentrum VU

Final editor

Elma Wobma

We thank all CBS colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in numbers.