Waverley had the biggest spike in smokers in the UK and three other Surrey boroughs were also in the top 15, new figures revealed.

It is estimated that smoking costs services in Surrey more than £230 million a year and the number of people who lit up or vaped rose in eight of the county’s 11 boroughs and districts – but Waverley stands alone at the top.

The number of smokers in the borough more than doubled between 2018 and 2022 – the most recent year the information was collected – according to data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

In 2018 it was estimated that about 7.1 per cent of adults in Waverley smoked, that leaped to 14.5 per cent in 2022.

Waverley’s 104 per cent increase in smokers is by far the biggest – the next seven councils are all in the 80 percentage growth rate; including Mole Valley which is eighth overall, with an increase of 83.8 per cent, (8 per cent in 2018 climbing to 14.7 per cent in 2022) the Local Democracy Reporting Service learned.

The other Surrey councils that make the 15 areas with the highest increases are Reigate and Banstead, 65.3 per cent growth, and Elmbridge 50.6 per cent.

Councillor Steve Williams, Waverley Borough Council portfolio holder for environment and sustainability said he was “deeply concerned about reports of an increase in smoking in Waverley borough”.

He said: “Smoking presents a serious threat to public health, and the growth of vaping amongst young people and the promotion of vaping products to those who have never smoked is really alarming.”

The other four council areas that experienced a growth in the percentage of adult smokers in Surrey were Guildford (29.2 per cent) Tandridge (20 per cent), Runnymede (7.2 per cent) and Epsom and Ewell (6.0 per cent).

Smoking continues to be one of the biggest preventable causes of ill health and is a major driver of health inequalities according to Emma Jones, Surrey’s public health lead for cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention.

Action on Smoking and Health estimates smoking in Surrey cost services £230 million a year.

These costs are attributed to productivity loss, healthcare, social care, and fires.

Health chiefs estimate that £24.8m per year is spent as a result of smoking-related hospital admissions as well as the cost of treating smoking-related illness via primary care services.

Ms Jones added: “Not only does quitting smoking reduce the risk of ill health and inequalities to the individual, but it will also have significant cost savings to our wider society.”

To address the growing problem, Surrey County Council has commissioned a stop smoking service delivered by One You Surrey, which it says supports around 1,500 smokers, including pregnant women, to quit each year.

The Surrey Tobacco and Alcohol Alliance is also set to launch its Surrey tobacco control strategy this week to address health inequalities by taking a more “targeted approach to support people to quit smoking for good”.

Data on adult smoking habits is collected using two surveys; the Annual Population Survey provides headline figures for the number of adults who smoke with a more detailed sampling of smoking habits of those aged 16 years by the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey.

The three councils where the percentage of adults who smoked fell were: Spelthorne (-27.8 per cent), Surrey Heath (-53.5 per cent) and Woking (-66.9).

Cllr Williams added: “Frimley and Guildford NHS lead on public health in our area and offer a range of support to help people quit, including nicotine replacement therapy to help with withdrawal symptoms. Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve your health.”