#AceHealthReport – July.18: Separately University College London (UCL) found more people quit smoking in the year to June 2020 than in any year since its survey began in 2007: Government advice says smokers may be at risk of more severe Covid symptoms: Between 15 April and 20 June, a representative sample of 10,000 people, enrolled by pollster YouGov on behalf of Ash, were asked about their smoking habits: The results were used to estimate the total number of people giving up smoking in the UK:
Coronavirus Report: Smokers quit in highest numbers in a decade more than 1-million having given up since the beginning of the #pandemic
By Rachel Schraer Health reporter
Just under half of people who had quit in the past four months said the pandemic had played a role in their decision: That may have been down to a range of factors including health concerns, access to tobacco while isolating or no longer smoking socially.
A team at University College London has been asking 1,000 people a month in England about their smoking habits since 2007 as part of the Smoking Toolkit Study: In the year to June 2020, 7.6% of smokers taking part in the survey quit – almost a third higher than the average and the highest proportion since the survey began more than a decade ago: On average, 5.9% of surveyed smokers quit per year since 2007.
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” ……About 7 million people in the UK in total were smokers in 2019: Ash is launching a stop-smoking campaign funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, targeting people in areas of the country with the highest rates of smoking: The North East has seen a bigger fall in smoker numbers than anywhere in England since 2005:
Data from the Zoe Covid Symptom Tracker app suggested smokers were 14% more likely than non-smokers to develop the three “classic” symptoms of coronavirus infection – fever, persistent cough and shortness of breath: The app, created by researchers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals and King’s College London, analysed data from more than 2.4 million UK participants: Their analysis found smokers with a positive Covid-19 test were more than twice as likely as non-smokers with coronavirus to be hospitalised: This aligns with research from the US which found hospitalised smokers with coronavirus were 1.8 times more likely to die: Although the small number of smokers in the Zoe study who took a coronavirus test appeared to be less likely than non-smokers to test positive, those that did were more likely to report serious symptoms:
Some studies from around the world have suggested smoking may actually have a protective effect against coronavirus: This is based on groups of hospital patients where smokers seemed to be underrepresented, compared with their numbers in the wider population:
Dr Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, from the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, said there was a “biologically plausible” explanation – that nicotine could be blocking the same receptors use by the virus to get into your cells: But, she said, the “clinical significance” of these studies is “entirely unclear”…………….”This isn’t consistent across studies and it’s unclear if the data from these studies are reliable,” she said: Smoking itself, rather than just taking in nicotine through a patch or gum, is “uniquely deadly” she pointed out, meaning the the health harms far outweigh any potential benefit:
Public Health England’s guidance states: “There is strong evidence that smoking tobacco is generally associated with an increased risk of developing respiratory viral infections: “Smoking causes damage to the lungs and airways and harms the immune system, reducing your ability to fight infection.”
#AceHealthDesk report …………..Published: July.18: 2020:
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