Smoking in lockdown
According to an article published by the BBC, smoking surged over lockdown across 18-34 year olds in the UK. According to research, there are now 652,000 new smokers in this particular age group.
Number of smokers increased by a quarter over lockdown
Whilst England’s goal is to become completely smoke-free by 2030, the overall stress that lockdown has caused to the population led to a significant increase in people’s smoking habits. Cancer Research UK revealed that the amount of young people who classed themselves as smokers increased by a quarter, jumping from 21.5% to 26.8%.
Experts believe that the critical surge occurred due to increased stress levels, especially as heavy drinking appears to have increased across all ages.
Smoking & mental health
Dr. Sarah Jackson, lead researcher from University College London, says that uncertainty of the UK's first lockdown has put a lot of pressure on people’s day to day lives, which, understandably, led people to resort to stress-relieving practices.
The UK has been leading a strong anti-smoking campaign over the last few years, with governments striving to make the habit as unappealing to young people as possible.
Michelle Mithcell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive stresses the importance of public anti-smoking campaigns in an attempt to reduce the number of smokers, especially after an over two-year long lockdown. ‘Public health campaigns and prevention services have a vital role to play in helping people to quit and also maintaining the motivation of those who have made positive changes’.
According to Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH, ‘the growing number of young adult smokers is a ticking time bomb’, especially when considering that, for the UK to become completely smoke free - smokers would need to quit at a rate of around 40% faster than predicted.
According to an article published by UCL, the increase in the amount of people who picked up the habit might be linked to the general misconception that habits like smoking and drinking can help release stress. This, of course, is a popular nicotine myth, as the use of the drug significantly contributes to the increase of anxiety and tension, as well as lead to depression. This is due to nicotine suppressing the brain’s natural ability to produce dopamine, causing the supply to decrease in the long term.
Whilst we’re more clued up than ever on the damaging effects of smoking, stressful times make the repercussions easier to forget. From damaging your health to your overall state of wellbeing, the chemicals found in tobacco aren’t easy on your body, and the pesky nicotine in smoking products is, according to research, more addictive than heroin.
If you (like many others) have picked up the habit over lockdown, we believe you have the power to quit! We know how hard quitting can be, especially after a year of uncertainty.