COVID-19 drives nine-in-ten smokers to confront their habit

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A new survey commissioned by Nicorette suggests the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the overwhelming majority of smokers to reconsider their habit.

According to the survey of 1,007 Australian adults who are current smokers, recent quitters or active quitters, 90 per cent have reconsidered their habit during the pandemic, with over one-third (36 per cent) trying to give up completely and 38 per cent reducing the number of cigarettes they smoke.

“The pandemic has upended daily routines and norms that were deeply ingrained in our lives,” said habits expert Gary Waldon.

“With periods of isolation from our friends and colleagues, we’re no longer on autopilot. We’ve got more time to think about our health, away from the pressures and triggers that lead to harmful habits like smoking.”

Two-thirds (65 per cent) of survey respondents said the pandemic has helped them better understand the importance of their health with over half (53 per cent) crediting a lack of peer pressure to smoke as the key factor in helping them give up.

Of those who have wanted to quit during the COVID-19 pandemic, 41 per cent of respondents said they were successful, with 48 per cent still trying and only 11 per cent saying they had not been successful.

“Given that the pandemic has been such a hugely difficult time for so many, it’s encouraging that many Australians have used the experience to refocus on their health and commit to better habits,” said Charmaine England, the managing director of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health. “When giving up smoking, a combination of help and support has been found to be most effective, from family support and GP advice through to nicotine replacement products.”

The survey also revealed women are more likely than men to admit the pandemic made it harder for them to start healthy habits and change their lifestyle - 26 per cent compared to 16 per cent.

In contrast, men are more likely to say the pandemic has made them more aware of their health and wellbeing - 51 per cent of men compared to 42 per cent of women.

Of those smokers wanting to quit, 32 per cent said it is their family members who help them stay on track, while 24 per cent said it is someone quitting smoking at the same time as them. A similar proportion (24 per cent) say a healthcare professional such as a GP or pharmacist is helpful.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of recent and active quitters said using nicotine replacement products helped them stay on track.