According to a joint-study conducted by researchers from University College London and the University of Sheffield, the amount of young adult smokers rose by 25% during the first lockdown.
Stress caused by lockdowns
Researchers explained that the stress caused by lockdowns and other forms of social restrictions due to COVID-19 resulted in 650,000 adults aged between 18-34 to take up smoking.
However, this wasn't the only addiction-based consequence as a result of strict COVID safety measures. As it turns out, lockdown also sparked a rise in the amount of people who chose to quit smoking all together. In addition, the study also found that high-risk drinking rose across all age groups with particular emphasis on women and people from lower social-economic statuses. The study explained that:
The first Covid-19 lockdown in England in March-July 2020 was associated with increased smoking prevalence among younger adults and an increased prevalence of high-risk drinking among all socio-demographic groups.
Smoking cessation activity also increased: more younger smokers made quit attempts during lockdown and more smokers quit successfully.
However, socio-economic disparities in patterns of drinking behaviour were evident: high-risk drinking increased by more among women and those from less advantaged social grades, but the rate of alcohol reduction attempts increased only among the more advantaged social grades.
Smokers in the UK
As it stands currently, there are about 6.9 million cigarette smokers in the UK. Between 1974 and 2019, the proportion of the population who has never had a cigaretterose from 37.4% to 60.4%, but that number has now decreased since the emergence of the coronavirus in early 2020.
Recently, the UK government has decided to clamp down on the prevalence of smoking by proposing to ban smoking outside restaurants and pubs. Oxfordshire, in particular, is set to ban smoking in public by 2025.