In 2003, the UK Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health began attempts to reduce national salt intakes via reformulation of processed foods and a consumer awareness campaign on the negative impacts of salt on health. The present study uses large nationally representative samples of households in England to assess whether discretionary salt use was affected by the national salt reduction campaign. Large cross-sectional datasets from the Health Survey for England were used to analyse trends in adults adding salt at the table between 1997 and 2007. Since 1997, there has been a steady decline in salt use at the table. Ordinal logistic regression analysis controlling for age, sex, total household income, region, ethnicity and background trends revealed that the reduction in salt use was significantly greater after the campaign (OR 0·58; 95 % CI 0·54, 0·63). Women (OR 0·71; 95 % CI 0·68, 0·74), non-white ethnic groups (OR 0·69; 95 % CI 0·62, 0·77), high-income households (OR 0·75; 95 % CI 0·69, 0·82), middle-income households (OR 0·79; 95 % CI 0·75, 0·84) and households in central (OR 0·90; 95 % CI 0·84, 0·98) or the south of England (OR 0·82; 95 % CI 0·77, 0·88) were less likely to add salt at the table. The results extend previous evidence of a beneficial response to the salt campaign by demonstrating the effect on salt use at the table. Future programmatic and research efforts may benefit from targeting specific population groups and improving the evidence base for evaluating the impact of the campaign.