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Over half of smokers in England want to quit for COVID

Over half (53%) of current smokers with lung conditions were planning to quit smoking due to COVID -19 in May, finds survey by Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation.

New evidence suggests that over half of smokers in England living with lung conditions want to ‘Quit for Covid’. The number of people with lung conditions looking to quit smoking in response to Covid-19 has increased from (50%) in April, to more than half (53%), in May.[1]

The figures, which have come from a survey of over 12,000 people living with lung conditions in England, have been released by Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation to mark ‘World No Tobacco Day’ on May 31, in an effort to highlight the need for everyone to have the support to quit smoking.

Smoking is a deadly addiction which is incredibly hard to quit, which is why access to support is vital. Quitting is important to protect people’s lung health, now more than ever, as quitting smoking is one of the best ways to protect yourself from viral infections, including coronavirus.

Research shows that people are 3 times more likely to stop successfully if they use a combination of stop smoking treatment and specialist help.

The survey results show there is demand for this support to quit. Of those looking to quit, the majority have said that they would not want to quit ‘cold turkey’, with two thirds (65.1%)[2] of people planning to quit using some form of support or aids recommended by health care professionals, such as nicotine patches, e-cigarettes and behavioural support.

Crucially, more than a quarter of smokers with lung conditions (26%)[3], said that they would look to turn to the NHS for support.

The Taskforce for Lung Health, of which Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation are both members, is calling for increased funding and access to stop smoking services across the country. The Taskforce found that last year, nearly 1 million smokers missed the opportunity to quit smoking due to cuts in funding.[4]

With face to face support coming to a halt due to COVID-19, Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation are calling for local authorities and providers to be supported to develop their services remotely, ensuring that people can continue to access help to quit.

Despite the fact that face-to-face smoking cessation services have come to a halt, many services are continuing to provide support through telephone and video conferencing consultations, and are working to make medication available, including to those who are shielding or self-isolating.

Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation are also campaigning for the success of remote services set up during the pandemic to be matched with long term, sustainable funding to deliver stop smoking services in the future.

Alison Cook, director of external affairs at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation and chair of the Taskforce for Lung Health said: “ With so many people with lung conditions motivated to quit it’s really important they have the best chances of quitting successfully, and that means making sure everyone has access to stop smoking services. Local providers need to be flexible with the support they can offer for people with lung conditions who are currently unable to leave the house or concerned about face-to-face meetings.

“The government have a target to make England smoke free by 2030. There’s huge opportunity here, and we urge the government to ensure sustainable funding is available to meet the demand to quit.”

Dr Nick Hopkinson, medical director at the British Lung Foundation and chair of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “For anyone who smokes, quitting is the most important thing that they can do to protect their own health and the health of those around them. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic because quitting smoking rapidly improves the health of your heart and lungs. The good news is, there is support out there to help you and I’d urge anyone who wants to quit smoking to check out www.todayistheday.co.uk or search online for NHS smoke free.”


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