20 Jan

Survey shows almost 30% of people smoked more during second lockdown

A new survey on health and lifestyle habits has revealed that almost 30% of smokers smoked more than normal during the second lockdown.

New data released by Public Health England suggests that 29% of participants said that they smoked more during the November lockdown. The most common reasons included fears about physical and mental health and money worries. Despite the spike in smoking among those who already smoke habitually, there was good news, as the survey also indicated that 43% of regular smokers intend to try and quit in 2021. 

The second lockdown also triggered an increase in drinking and unhealthy snacking and a decrease in activity levels. A third of those surveyed admitting to grazing on unhealthy snacks daily, while 23% said that their intake of alcohol had increased. A third of those polled were doing less exercise than in the first half of the year. 

Public health minister, Jo Churchill, said that the survey highlighted the challenges we faced in 2020 and stressed the impact the pandemic has had on lifestyle choices and talking about health and wellbeing. The crisis has shone a spotlight on obesity in particular, with those who are obese more likely to develop severe symptoms and potentially fatal complications of Covid-19. 

Smoking is a major risk factor for respiratory illnesses and many forms of cancer, including oral cancer and lung cancer. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease and gum disease. Quitting smoking has an incredibly positive impact on health outcomes and it can also have a significant effect on personal and household finances. 

Studies suggest that the number of smokers is dropping year on year, but rising levels of anxiety and spending more time at home may trigger an increase during the Covid-19 crisis. Anyone who wants to try and give up smoking can access help, advice and support via community pharmacies, GP surgeries and dental practices. The NHS provides treatment options, in addition to access to stop smoking advisers and group support.