Over 30% of smokers are lighting up more regularly since the start of the pandemic, a survey by Mintel has suggested.
The research, which surveyed almost 2,000 adults over the age of 18 in October 2020, also found that 42% of e-cigarette users reported vaping more regularly, with 65% of smokers worried that the virus is more dangerous to them as a smoker.
Young smokers were particularly affected, with 39% of smokers aged 18-34 now smoking more regularly.
The research also found that 10% of smokers who had quit have gone back to smoking, whereas 69% said their respiratory health was more important to them now than before the pandemic.
Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: ‘The pandemic has been a wakeup call formally of us about our health. A million smokers were galvanised to quit during the first lockdown, but as this research shows, some will have relapsed and those who didn’t stop may now be smoking more.
‘Every smoker should know help is out there to stop and, that although quitting can be stressful to start with, after only a few weeks ex-smokers experience improved wellbeing as much or greater than if they were taking antidepressants.’
Roshida Khanom, category director at Mintel, said: ‘The pandemic has elevated stress levels, and among smokers this has seen an increase in smoking frequency.
‘There has been a peak among young smokers where increased unemployment and job uncertainty is likely to have driven rates.’