As Covid-19 cases rise across Wales, there has never been more important time to quit smoking, and thousands of people across Wales are doing just that. If you’re a smoker why not join them, today?
Public Health Wales officials are urging smokers to join the thousands across Wales who have given up since the start of the pandemic, to protect their health, and the health of those around them.
Smokers are at greater risk if they catch the virus, because of the damage already caused to their airways by smoking. Meanwhile the hand to mouth action of smoking means they could be more likely to catch the virus.
Ashley Gould is a Consultant in Public Health at Public Health Wales. He said: “Put simply – COVID-19 attacks the lungs and airways. Smoking damages lungs and airways. That’s why smokers are at greater risk from COVID-19.
“The repeated hand to mouth movement associated with smoking can also give the virus an easier route in to your body. That’s two good reasons to try to quit smoking – but everyone will also have their own great reasons to quit. About 70% of smokers in Wales want to have a smoke-free future, and Help Me Quit services, run the NHS in Wales boosts people’s chances of that by 300%, compared to trying alone.
“Smokers, or those that care about them can search Help Me Quit or call 0800 085 2219 and sort out expert NHS stop smoking support over the phone, plus get free medication.”
Help Me Quit has offered stop smoking support through the pandemic via its helpline and saw a surge in demand for its services at the start of the pandemic with a 51% increase in referrals in April. In June and July referrals rose by 400, but plenty of appointment slots are still available.
According to research carried out by ASH and University College London, an estimated 33,000 Welsh smokers have quit smoking since the start of the Covid19 pandemic. Fears over the impact of the virus were the major driver for those quitting with 41% of smokers surveyed across the UK citing Covid-19 as their main reason for giving up.
Suzanne Cass is CEO of ASH Wales. She said:“Covid-19 has created a real sense of urgency among smokers who may have been thinking about giving up and have now taken the plunge and quit for good.
“Research has shown that smokers are at significantly higher risk of suffering more severe symptoms if they catch the virus and it is vitally important that this acts as a catalyst for change.
“We do not know how long the virus will be with us so we must ensure that easily accessible, well-funded and targeted quit smoking support is available across Wales as part of the country’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.”