Over 1 Million People in the UK Quit Smoking during COVID-19 Pandemic

It is believed that in excess of 1 million people have managed to successfully quit smoking since the COVID pandemic struck Britain earlier in the year, according to a new study.

Research led by the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and University College London (UCL) discovered that more than 1 million people in the UK have given up smoking whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the nation. Moreover, an extra 440,000 smokers attempted to give up during this time.

Younger smokers appear to be stopping at a higher rate than their older counterparts. It was found that of the 1 million people who quit between April and June, 400,000 of these were aged between 16 and 29, yet only 240,000 were aged over 50. In addition, around 400,000 of those aged 30-49 have given up smoking.

The news of so many people stopping smoking is perhaps not surprising as smoking has continuously been linked to causing serious complications for those who contract coronavirus.

According to the NHS, if you smoke, you generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infection and of more severe symptoms once infected. Coronavirus symptoms may therefore be more severe if you smoke.

The NHS add that stopping smoking will bring immediate benefits to your health, including if you have an existing smoking-related disease.

The new study was carried out between April 15 and June 20. Of the million who quit smoking, almost half (41%) said it was a direct response to heightened health concerns during the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has tragically claimed the lives of more than 700,000 people worldwide so far.

The study was conducted in association with Smoke Free Action, a campaign encouraging smokers to quit. Smoking has long been known to be the primary cause of preventable illness, but smokers who requiring hospital treatment due to COVID-19 are at a higher risk of suffering severe outcomes than non-smokers.

Funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, the campaign will build upon campaigns already successfully launched in the North East and Greater Manchester, and will look to appeal to smokers in localities/local authority areas with the highest rates of smoking.

The campaign is supported by respiratory consultant Dr Ruth Sharrock, who has made a heartfelt plea for people to quit to protect their health.

Dr Sharrock commented: “Every day of my working life I see the terrible health problems caused by smoking. But I have also been inspired by those already suffering from smoking related diseases, who have still managed quit and get health benefits from this. My message to smokers today is, please, do not wait. Whether you are healthy now or already unwell because of smoking, today is the day to stop. It can transform your life.”

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, Action on Smoking and Health says: “Over a million smokers may have succeeded in stopping smoking since COVID-19 hit Britain, but millions more have carried on smoking. This campaign is designed to encourage those who’ve not yet succeeded, to wake up and decide today is the day to stop smoking.”

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