ASH Daily News for 4 May 2020


  • More than 300,000 UK smokers may have quit owing to COVID-19 fears
  • COVID-19 crisis sparks new call in Scotland for minimum pricing for tobacco
  • Elderly smoker quits 30-a-day habit after more than six decades


  • US: Older vapers are turning back to cigarettes, Marlboro maker says


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

More than 300,000 in the UK may have quit smoking during the coronavirus crisis as evidence suggests smoking makes people 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 analysis of survey data by YouGov and the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

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.

The results of the survey were welcomed by several health and tobacco control organisations in a statement released by #QuitforCOVID 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.”

The founder of the #QuitforCOVID campaign urged more people to stop smoking during the pandemic and beyond. “Stopping smoking remains the single biggest thing people can do to improve their overall health,” said Dr Charlie Kenward, a GP from Bristol. “It will improve heart and lung health as well as reducing the chances of developing cancer and even improve wound healing after surgery. There has never been a better time to quit.”

Source: The Guardian, 4 May 2020

See the Today is the Day website to learn more about the #QuitforCOVID campaign

See also:
Metro: Coronavirus risk makes 300,000 give up smoking
ITV News: More than 300,000 Britons quit smoking over Covid-19 fears – survey
Yorkshire post: Surge in motivation’ sees 300,000 smokers kick the habit
Northern Echo: Smokers quitting because of Covid-19

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COVID-19 crisis sparks new call in Scotland for minimum pricing for tobacco

Scotland’s leading anti-smoking charity is backing calls for a minimum unit price (MUP) on tobacco after scientists said “now is the time” to tackle the largest preventable cause of chronic disease.

ASH Scotland is supporting a minimum pricing scheme similar to that introduced in Scotland on alcohol products two years ago. It would see the price of cigarettes and tobacco rise with the aim of persuading more smokers to quit.

Sheila Duffy, the charity’s chief executive, said the move would have to go “hand in hand with strategies and support to help people to quit”.

Professor Mike Lean (University of Glasgow), Richard Simpson (University of Stirling) and Professor Linda Bauld (University of Edinburgh) said wider measures should be considered such as reducing tobacco availability and introducing minimum pricing. “Now is the time to align how we respond to the largest preventable cause of chronic diseases — smoking — with our response to COVID-19.”

In an open letter, the academics described it as “perverse” that tobacco is still being advertised outside convenience stores and raised concern over smoking cessation services being curtailed by some Scottish health boards. “This is utterly the wrong approach,” they said. “Those worst affected by COVID-19 include older people, men, and those with dementia, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and lung disease. One factor which ties these together is tobacco smoking.”

“We do not have good evidence that smokers are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, but it is safe to say that stopping smoking will help with recovery.”

Source: The Times, 3 May 2020

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Elderly smoker quits 30-a-day habit after more than six decades

Tag Doogan, who quit smoking in November to be healthier for her grandchildren, said she feels she has given herself the best chance if she ends up “facing the [corona]virus”.

Ms Doogan, who has two young grandsons, said: “Smoking is bad for the grandchildren, and I wanted to be a better, kinder person. I was miserable because I was wheezy and couldn’t walk a few steps without getting out of breath. I wanted to go dancing, I wanted to go exercise, I want to have a good laugh and have a good social life.”

Ms Doogan said her lung capacity has improved massively since quitting, her blood pressure has dropped to a healthy level, and she has experienced “amazing” mental health benefits.

Source: Sunday Post, 4 May 2020

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US: Older vapers are turning back to cigarettes, Marlboro maker says

Older smokers who had switched to e-cigarettes are turning back to traditional cigarettes because of negative news coverage and regulatory crackdowns on vaping, Marlboro maker Altria said on Thursday (30 March).

Smokers age 50 and over, who have driven the shift, are mostly buying discount cigarettes, a trend that is likely to continue as the economic downturn takes hold and cigarette smokers trade down to cheaper brands, according to Altria Chief Executive, Billy Gifford.

Last year, US health officials investigating a vaping-related lung illness raised concerns about e-cigarette use before concluding that the risks were mainly related to vaping products containing marijuana and Vitamin E acetate. The Food and Drug Administration earlier this year barred the sale of sweet and fruity flavoured e-cigarette cartridges to curb an alleged rise in underage vaping.

According to a Cowen analysis of Nielsen data, US retail-store sales of e-cigarettes have fallen over seven of the past nine four-week periods.

Altria said the coronavirus hasn’t yet had a material impact on its sales, as convenience stores and other retail outlets where cigarettes are sold have largely remained open.

Source: Morning Star, 30 April 2020

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