The Smoking Inequalities in England, 2016 report by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows around 6.3 million people aged 18 and over in England smoked in 2016, and that in Torridge in particular, the percentage of smokers is on the rise. In Torridge, 12 per cent of the population smoked in 2015, rising to more than 18 per cent in 2016. The news comes as a concern to Dr Derrani, group medical advisor and consultant psychiatrist at addiction treatment firm UKAT. Nicotine is what is known as a gateway drug, said Dr Derrani. Although the general public does not classify smoking in line with the other drugs associated with addiction, the consequences and effects on health are no different, and in some cases, more lethal. Eytan Alexander, founder of UKAT, added: These ONS figures paint a worrying picture that if smoking is on the rise in areas like Torridge, we could see a rise in substance abuse and dependency.