The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown drove Britons to smoke more, not less, a study has found.
A study done during the UK’s first lockdown, involving nearly 2,000 people around the UK has found that Covid-19 may have dealt a serious blow to the UK’s ambitions to become smoke free in the coming decade.
A higher proportion of unemployed adults, those in manual occupations, and those with mental health conditions are likely to smoke compared to the general population in the UK, but managers and professionals also increased their smoking in the last year and fewer people decided to quit.
“Findings from our research study showed that smokers under 45 years of age, a higher proportion of those in managerial and professional occupations, and current dual users reported increased smoking in lockdown,” Dr Sudhanshu Patwardhan, Medical Director of the Hampshire based Centre for Health Research and Education.
“It is concerning to see that a change in the smokers’ and their healthcare advisers’ routines during the COVID-19 pandemic are threatening to reverse the past few decades of gains in stubbing out smoking in the country,” he added.
Two groups of respondents were surveyed in the study, ‘consumers’ and their likely health ‘influencers’. Nearly one thousand consumers were surveyed, including current smokers and dual users, consumers who smoke as well as vape, and ex-smokers. An increase in smoking was reported by 67 percent of smokers and dual users during the Covid-19 lockdown. The pandemic also changed the plans to quit smoking in 36 percent of smokers and dual users, with only 6 percent deciding to quit.
A greater proportion of respondents in managerial and professional occupations reported increased smoking, and dual users reduced vaping, during the lockdown.
Claudia Trainer, a behavioural scientist said, “Many people have transitioned to working from home during the pandemic. This may provide more environmental opportunities to smoke, with different social influences, than in the workplace. Additionally, lockdowns can heighten feelings of stress and boredom.”
More than 14 percent of adults in England, more than 6 million people, smoke cigarettes regularly. Chronic smoking kills over 80,000 in the UK every year.
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