Smokers quit in highest numbers in a decade

More than one million people 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.
Separately, University College London (UCL) found more people quit smoking in the year to June 2020 than in any year since its survey began in 2007.
Government advice says smokers may be at risk of more severe Covid symptoms.
Between 15 April and 20 June, a representative sample of 10,000 people, enrolled by pollster YouGov on behalf of Ash, 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 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 said: “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.
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.

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