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More than 300,000 UK smokers may have quit owing to Covid-19 fears

Health groups welcome survey suggesting many have quit, are trying to or have cut down

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PA Media

Mon 4 May 2020 00.01 BST

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 Evidence is growing that smoking is associated with worse outcomes in those admitted to hospital with Covid-19, says the campaign group Ash. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

More than 300,000 in the UK may have quit smoking during the coronavirus crisis as evidence mounts that the habit makes them more vulnerable to Covid-19, a survey suggests.

A further 550,000 have tried to quit, while 2.4 million have cut down, according to the joint study by YouGov and the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

The survey of 1,004 people suggested 2% of smokers had quit because of concerns about coronavirus; 8% were trying to quit; 36% had cut down; and 27% were now more likely to quit.

A quarter of former smokers said they were less likely to resume smoking, although 4% said the pandemic had made them more likely to relapse.

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The results of the survey were welcomed by several health and anti-smoking organisations in a statement released by #QuitforCOVID Twitter campaign.

Dr Nick Hopkinson, the chairman of Ash who is also a respiratory specialist at Imperial College London, said: “Smoking harms the immune system and our ability to fight off infections. Evidence is growing that smoking is associated with worse outcomes in those admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

“Quitting smoking also rapidly reduces people’s risk of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes. Those are bad whenever they happen, so preventing them is an end in itself and is especially important at a time like now when everyone is keen to stay out of hospital.”

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