More people quit smoking in Bath and North East Somerset during pandemic

A higher proportion of smokers in Bath and North East Somerset quit during the coronavirus pandemic than the year before, figures suggest.

File photo dated 12/03/13 of a man smoking a cigarette. The stress of Covid-19 has fuelled Britain's nicotine habit, with more than half of smokers "stress-smoking" more, and 10% lighting up again after quitting, a survey suggests. Young people in particular are taking refuge in the habit, with 39% of smokers aged 18-34 saying they are now smoking more regularly, analysts Mintel reported. 2021. Issue date: Thursday April 15, 2021.
File photo dated 12/03/13 of a man smoking a cigarette. The stress of Covid-19 has fuelled Britain's nicotine habit, with more than half of smokers "stress-smoking" more, and 10% lighting up again after quitting, a survey suggests. Young people in particular are taking refuge in the habit, with 39% of smokers aged 18-34 saying they are now smoking more regularly, analysts Mintel reported. 2021. Issue date: Thursday April 15, 2021.

A higher proportion of smokers in Bath and North East Somerset quit during the coronavirus pandemic than the year before, figures suggest.

With quitting success rates rising across England, the charity Action on Smoking and Health said smokers – particularly older ones – have been prompted by health fears from the Covid-19 crisis.

Sign up to our BristolWorld Today newsletter

NHS Digital data shows 397 people in Bath and North East Somerset set a date to quit using the NHS Stop Smoking Service between April last year and March.

At follow-up meetings held a month later, 307 said they had given up – 77%.

The previous year, 63% of people in Bath and North East Somerset said they had successfully quit smoking.

Nationally, the self-reported quit rate rose from 51% to 59% over this period, though success varied significantly between 82% in North East Lincolnshire and just 21% in Harrow.

Jon Foster, senior policy officer at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: "If the Government is serious about reaching its own ambition for a smoke-free England by 2030, then they need to reverse the 50% cuts that local stop smoking services have seen over the past few years.

"The Government should implement a smoke-free fund, using profits from tobacco companies to pay for measures to prevent people from starting to smoke, and to support those who do to quit."

Some 1,700 smokers looking to kick the habit across England last year were aged under 18 – and 45% reported quitting.

Though up from 41% the previous year, it was still the lowest success rate of any category, and well behind the 61% of people aged 60 and over who achieved the same.

ASH said there is some evidence that the pandemic has changed smokers' relationship to tobacco.

Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of the charity, added: "Recent research highlighted that younger people appear to have been taking up or going back to smoking in larger numbers.

"It appears likely that for younger people the stress of lockdown has led to more smoking while for older smokers health fears have prompted more quitting.

"Overall, people have been quitting with greater success in the pandemic."

The figures show two under-18s in Bath and North East Somerset set a date to quit last year, with all of them saying they had given up a month later.

The Department for Health and Social Care said UK smoking rates are at record low levels, and the Government was on track to make England smoke free by 2030.

A spokeswoman added: “We are addressing the damaging health implications of smoking right across the country, especially where rates remain stubbornly high.

"Our new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities will support efforts to level up public health and ensure no communities are left behind."