The coronavirus pandemic has forced us into a lot of behavioural changes. We wash our hands more often, wear a mask all the time when outside and maintain a physical distance when meeting friends and relatives. And if a new survey by the BBC is to be believed, more than one million people have given up smoking since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. According to the survey conducted by Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), 41% of those who quit in the last four months said it was a direct consequence of the coronavirus.
🧯 More people quit smoking this year than any year since 2007.
This will have to be calculated in the health impacts of the #COVID19 pandemic as it could be an incredibly significant one🧯
Coronavirus: Smokers quit in highest numbers in a decade https://t.co/20egys5hI1
— Dr Ellie *Facemasks save lives* 😷🧼 (@Dr_Ellie) July 15, 2020
University College London (UCL) found that more people quit smoking in the year to June 2020 than in any year since its survey began in 2007. Smokers have been at more risk of showing symptoms for Covid-19 and it has showed up in the statistics of countries that have more smokers than others.
Just under half of the people who had quit in the past four months said that the pandemic was a huge factor, citing reasons like health concerns, access to tobacco while isolating, or no longer smoking socially. 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.”
A couple of weeks ago, the World Health Organization had stated that smoking is linked to a higher risk of severe illness and death from the coronavirus in hospitalised patients. WHO noted that smokers represent up to 18% of hospitalised coronavirus patients and that there appeared to be a significant link between whether or not patients smoked and the severity of disease they suffered, the type of hospital interventions required and patients’ risk of dying.
WHO says “the available evidence suggests that smoking is associated with increased severity of disease and death in hospitalised Covid-19 patients. It recommends that smokers quit.”
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) July 2, 2020
With many shops closed due to lockdown, no friends around to smoke with and office sutta breaks becoming a thing of the past in a work-from-home environment, it is hardly surprising that the number of people who have quit smoking has gone up.
Along with other safety-related habits and precautionary measures that the pandemic has forced upon us, quitting smoking could be a positive byproduct that we could all incorporate in our lives well beyond the lockdown and the pandemic. The “kal se sutta bandh” gang, your moment has arrived.