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Around 300,000 smokers have #QuitforCovid – Will you?

Around 300,000 people have quit smoking successfully, a further 550,000 have tried to quit and 2.4 million have cut down on the amount of cigarettes they smoke, following concerns around coronavirus (COVID-19) and the increased risk smokers face.

This information was released earlier this month by Smokefree Action Coalition and is based on findings from the UK arm of YouGov’s international COVID-19 Tracker*.

Evidence shows smokers with COVID-19, which affects the lungs and airways, are 14 times more likely to develop severe respiratory disease.

Tessa Lindfield is Convenor for the Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System’s Living Well Ambition and Strategic Director of Public Health for Berkshire. She said:” Quitting smoking is always a good move for your health, and now could be even more important than ever to lower your risk of complications from respiratory diseases like COVID and flu"

Both The Chief Medical Officer and Health Secretary have highlighted that smokers are at increased risk of chest infections.

Smoking harms the immune system, reducing the bodies’ natural protection against infections, like coronavirus. Smokers are more likely to contract infections and for infections to be more serious and to last longer. In addition, the repetitive hand to mouth movement when you smoke provides an easy route of entry for the virus, putting smokers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

People, including children, exposed to second-hand smoke, are also at increased risk, so we should particularly avoid smoking at home and in the car.  Second-hand smoke is particularly dangerous for those with existing health conditions, like asthma or heart disease.

There is no clear evidence to link e-cigarettes with risk of contracting COVID-19, nor with its progression. Therefore, e-cigarettes remain a useful tool to help stop smoking.  Clearly sensible hygiene precautions should be taken and you should not share e-cigarette devices.

It is never too late to quit, no matter your age, so why not #QuitforCovid – a campaign launched on twitter last month by a Bristol GP who recognised the growing concerns among his patients who smoked. The campaign is being backed by the Smokefree Action Coalition and respiratory clinicians.

Once smoke-free, there are very real health benefits with the body continuing to repair the longer you stay smoke-free. The more immediate benefits include:

  • after 48 hours carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body. Lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris
  • after 72 hours breathing becomes easier as bronchial tubes begin to relax
  • after 2 to 12 weeks blood circulation improves, making physical activity like walking and running easier

Ruth Tennant, Tobacco lead for the Association of Directors of Public Health, said:

There are so many reasons to quit smoking but never a more important time than right now during the coronavirus pandemic. Emerging evidence suggests that smoking puts people more at risk from severe complications from COVID-19, and the ADPH is now supporting efforts to encourage smokers to quit for COVID."

Whilst getting support to quit smoking face to face is not currently possible, there is still support available, so please contact your local stop smoking service for support and advice detailed below:

Berkshire

Telephone:  0800 622 6360
Text QUIT to 66777
Web: www.smokefreelifeberkshire.com

Bracknell

Telephone:  0800 622 6360
Text QUIT to 66777
Web: www.smokefreelifeberkshire.com

Hampshire

Telephone:  0800 772 3649
Text QUIT to 66777
Web: www.smokefreehampshire.co.uk

Windsor and Maidenhead (inc. Ascot)

Web: https://www3.rbwm.gov.uk/publichealth/homepage/8/quit_smoking
Email: Public.Health@RBWM.gov.uk

Slough

Telephone:  0800 0614734 / 01753 373646
Text QUIT to 66777
Using the Quit with Bella app www.quitwithbella.co.uk
Web: https://healthandwellbeingslough.co.uk/services/stop-smoking/

Surrey

Telephone: 01737 652168
Email: s.smoking@nhs.net 
Web: www.oneyousurrey.org.uk

National details

The NHS offer several ways to access some support without leaving your home.

Smoke-free App

The app can help you stop smoking by providing daily support and motivation. If you stay smoke free for the 4-week programme you're up to 5 times more likely to quit for good. Plus, you can track the days you've been smoke free and see how much you're saving! Download the Smokefree app

Daily email support

Stay focused on quitting with support sent straight to your inbox. The Smoke free emails, sent every day for 28 days, are full of advice, tips and encouragement to help you achieve your goal. Sign up for Smokefree email support

Frimley Health and Care