An English campaign designed to help and encourage people to quit smoking conducted a survey which revealed that more than one million people have quit smoking since the outbreak of COVID-19.
1 million people in the UK quit smoking during pandemic
More than one million people in the United Kingdom have given up smoking since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, a survey for charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) suggests. Of those who had quit in the previous four months, 41% said it was in direct response to coronavirus.
Just under half of people who quit in the past four months said the pandemic had played a role
Between 15 April and 20 June, a representative sample of 10,000 people, enrolled by pollster YouGov on behalf of the organisation Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and University College London (UCL), were asked about their smoking habits. The results were used to estimate the total number of people giving up smoking in the UK.
Just under half of people who had quit in the past four months said the pandemic had played a role in their decision. That may have been down to a range of factors including health concerns, access to tobacco while isolating or no longer smoking socially.
A further 440,000 people in the country have also used the pandemic as an opportunity to try to quit, according to the analysis.
A team at University College London has been asking 1,000 people a month in England about their smoking habits since 2007 as part of the Smoking Toolkit Study.
In the year to June 2020, 7.6% of smokers taking part in the survey quit – almost a third higher than the average and the highest proportion since the survey began more than a decade ago. On average, 5.9% of surveyed smokers quit per year since 2007.
Ash director Deborah Arnott told the BBC: "Over a million smokers may have succeeded in stopping smoking since Covid-19 hit Britain, but millions more have carried on smoking".
About 7 million people in the UK in total were smokers in 2019. Government advice says smokers may be at risk of more severe Covid symptoms.
ASH is launching a stop-smoking campaign funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, targeting people in areas of the country with the highest rates of smoking.