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Covid-19 Lockdowns & Smoking in the UK

by Theo Wilson

How have Lockdowns Affected Smoking in the UK?

Despite living in a global pandemic brought on by a highly infectious respiratory virus, the past year has in fact seen a rise in smoking in the UK. In April of this year, market intelligence agency Mintel released a report which suggests that pandemic-related worries are fuelling a resurgence of stress-smoking.

The key takeaway from the report is that current smokers are smoking more, and more ex-smokers have taken up the habit again — of the participants surveyed, 10% were former smokers who had restarted after quitting. Perhaps most alarmingly, younger age groups have seen a substantial rise in smoking. 39% of smokers aged 18-34 reported that they had been smoking more since the beginning of the pandemic. Anyone reading this is no doubt familiar with — or at least aware of — the increased stress levels most of us have been experiencing during this pandemic.

Since many smokers view smoking as a form of stress relief, it makes sense that they would be smoking more during times like these. For a lot of people, and perhaps most notably for younger people, the pandemic has brought about greater financial stress — particularly in regards to unemployment and job uncertainty.

Add to this greater levels of loneliness and boredom as a result of lockdown rules, and it’s easy to see why many have turned to smoking for relief, viewing it as a relatively innocent vice in these times of turmoil.

How To Replace Smoking

We understand that it’s been easy to turn to smoking during lockdown — and we sympathise.

Most of us have probably indulged in a few bad behaviours over the past year, which understandably seem rather minor in the grand scheme of things at the moment. And, with most vape shops having been shut for longer periods during lockdown, cigarettes have no doubt been the easier option for many nicotine users. The upside is that it’s never too late to make a change for the better.

As we begin to emerge from lockdown — hopefully for good — many retail stores are once again beginning to reopen their doors for customers. Thankfully, that includes our stores too. So, whether you’re a former vape user who fell off the wagon during lockdown, or a long term smoker looking to make that change, we’re here to help you.

Head on over to our handy Store Locator page to find your nearest myCigara branch. Our friendly store staff are on hand to offer you expert advice, custom-tailored to your individual wants and needs, in order to give you the best possible start on your journey toward becoming smoke-free. Plus, you can reap the benefits of our decade’s worth of industry experience from the comfort of your own home.

Our New to Vaping page offers a useful primer if you’re totally new to this, and we have a range of guides that aim to answer some of the key questions people have regarding vaping. Of course, you’re always welcome to contact us directly if you have any questions.

Does Smoking Increase Stress?

Whilst turning to smoking during times of stress is understandable, it’s also fair to say that it’s not very helpful.

Although many smokers do view smoking as a means of stress relief, there’s a case to be made that smoking will in fact increase feelings of stress, anxiety, and fatigue — feelings only exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic and being stuck inside during lockdown.

In an earlier blog, ‘Quit Smoking for a Healthier Lifestyle’, we outlined some of the links between smoking and stress. The key takeaways from this are that a smoking habit is detrimental to some of the most conventional — and attainable/achievable — methods for coping with stress: namely, proper breathing, a good night’s sleep, and getting some exercise.

We won’t dive into it here, but for additional info check out our recent blog on the relationship between smoking and exercise. We understand that lockdown has been hard for many of us. Often stuck indoors, with our social and support networks vastly reduced, we’ve probably all been more stressed than usual. It has been easier to feel trapped, and as a result we may turn more toward bad habits, such as smoking.

Habits to Help Quit Smoking

Despite the many negative effects of life in lockdown, one upside to it is an increase — for most of us — in free time.

For many of us, this is directly tied to the sociocultural shift toward working from home. When it comes to a smoking habit, there are certainly downsides to this. For those to whom a cigarette break is an integral part of the working day, this now becomes a part of their time at home. Also, with the boundaries increasingly blurred between home and office, work and leisure, lots of us are finding it harder to switch off or make a clean break from work at the end of the day. It’s probably not a stretch, then, to assume that the stress of feeling like we’re “always” at work has smokers reaching for their cigarettes more frequently.

On a more positive note, however, we do technically have an increased amount of leisure time. The trick is to use that time not necessarily productively, but constructively. Not being stuck in the office, we have more time to look after ourselves, be it before, after, or in the middle of our work day. A leisurely lunchtime stroll, or shaking off the home-office with a post-work run, can do wonders. Not only does exercise boost our mood and increase energy levels, it’s also an effective way of staving off cigarette cravings.

So next time you feel yourself reaching for cigarettes, why not try to replace smoking with exercise. Take a brisk walk around your block, or do some pushups, or counteract all that sitting with some light yoga. Not only will you feel better for it, you may just find that — by the time you’re done — the urge to smoke has passed.

Quit Smoking During Covid-19

At myCigara, we exist to make the UK smoke-free. We believe that vaping is one of the most effective, and achievable, methods for doing so.

That’s why we offer our customers a wealth of expert, personalised advice, based on over a decade’s worth of experience in this industry. When it comes to quitting smoking: it’s never too late — or too early! There’s no right or wrong time to give it a go.

Our in-depth Stop Smoking Timeline shows you all the benefits you can reap by quitting. If you head on over to our Facts & Statistics page, we’ve got some info on just why we think vaping is the better option, as well as links to some of the public health bodies we partner with to help smokers quit today.

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