Worrying figures out this week suggest we could be feeling the impact of the pandemic for years, even decades down the line.
According in a new study, the number of 18-34 years old who describe themselves as ‘smokers’ rose by a quarter during the first lockdown. There are now an extra 652,000 young smoking adults than there were before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The reasons for this sharp increase are not yet apparent. However, experts believe both the anxiety and boredom caused by repeated lockdowns are a major contributing factor.
Smoking remains the biggest cause of lung cancer. Prior to the pandemic, smoking rates were falling; The proportion of current smokers in the UK had fallen significantly from 14.7% in 2018 to 14.1% in 2019.
But smoking has remained an issue amongst younger adults; 25 to 34-year-olds making up the highest proportion of current smokers (19%) and it appears lockdowns have exacerbated the situation. However, as we now start to emerge from the desolation of the pandemic, it is essential people have the support they need to quit smoking.
Paula Chadwick is the chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation:
“Smoking amongst the younger generation is nothing new. Figures from the Office of National Statistics highlight that the highest proportion of current smokers are aged between 25 and 34.
Many are surprised by this given we are all fully aware of the dangers of smoking and its links to lung cancer. However, at this age, the potential consequences of smoking feel like such an improbability.
The trouble is smoking is an addiction. Cigarettes are designed to keep you hooked and, before you know it, you have become a long-term smoker and increased your chance of getting lung cancer and many other illnesses considerably.
For many years now, we have been concerned around the role of e-cigarettes as a potential gateway into smoking for younger adults – the packaging, the choose of sweet flavours.
Whilst there is no detail of e-cigarettes in this study, we would be interested to hear how many of these self-professed smokers have previously used an e-cigarette and whether, under the extreme circumstances we found ourselves in over the last 18 months, is there are any links to progression? Should this be the case, we would need to once again put e-cigarettes under the microscope.
Nevertheless, the important thing right now is to ensure people have the support they need to quit smoking and we eagerly await the new Tobacco Control Plan which the Government has committed to publish this year. Stoptober is on the horizon and offers a perfect opportunity to quit.
In the meantime, anyone who is looking to quit now – and the sooner the better – can get the help and support they need through our Quit Support forum.”