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Study shows 300,000 have quit smoking since pandemic began

May 4, 2020

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UK smokers are kicking the habit in the hundreds of thousands as concerns about lung health drive people to live healthier lives, anti-smoking campaigners have said.

As politicians and health groups warn about the impact that smoking can have on coronavirus outcomes, analysis of survey data by YouGov and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) suggests an additional 550,000 smokers have tried to quit in recent months with 2.4 million smokers cutting down.

In contrast to anecdotal evidence to Vape Business that many retailers have seen big increases in tobacco sales due to the anxiety of lockdown, the report shows only 4% of ex-smokers believe the pandemic has made them more likely to smoke. In contract, one in four former smokers believe the coronavirus has made them less likely to smoke.

The results of the survey were released in a statement released by the #QuitforCOVID campaign run by todayistheday.co.uk.

Dr Nick Hopkinson, the chairman of ASH who is also a respiratory specialist at Imperial College London, said: “Smoking harms the immune system and our ability to fight off infections. Evidence is growing that smoking is associated with worse outcomes in those admitted to hospital with COVID-19. Quitting smoking also rapidly reduces people’s risk of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes. Those are bad whenever they happen, so preventing them is an end in itself and is especially important at a time like now when everyone is keen to stay out of hospital.”

The founder of the #QuitforCOVID campaign urged more people to stop smoking during the pandemic and beyond. “Stopping smoking remains the single biggest thing people can do to improve their overall health,” said Dr Charlie Kenward, a GP from Bristol. “It will improve heart and lung health as well as reducing the chances of developing cancer and even improve wound healing after surgery. There has never been a better time to quit.”

The statement was first reported by the Guardian, Yorkshire Post and Metro.