Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 10:23 UK

Recession 'keeps smokers puffing'

One in four people smoke in the UK

Many smokers are too stressed by the hard economic times to attempt to give up their habit, research suggests.

Almost a quarter (23%) of smokers quizzed by Ipsos Mori said they had put off plans to quit.

And 28% said they had simply been too stressed to make a successful attempt to quit in the last six months, blaming job and financial worries.

If reflected across the country it could mean more than two million people have delayed plans to quit.

We know that the earlier people quit, the better
Jennifer Percival
Royal College of Nursing

Almost half of those polled (46%) said they felt more stressed than they used to, with many blaming the current economic situation.

And nearly three-quarters (73%) said smoking a cigarette was comforting when they were stressed.

One in four said they had started to smoke more during the economic downturn.

Support needed

Jennifer Percival, tobacco policy advisor at the Royal College of Nursing, said the findings were a concern, as it suggested many people were continuing to expose themselves to the harmful effects of smoking even though they wanted to give up.

She said: "We know that the earlier people quit, the better, so we need to make sure that those who are delaying quit plans are being offered effective options and support to help them to stop smoking successfully."

The poll also found that many smokers were prepared to make sacrifices in other areas of their lives, rather than stop buying cigarettes.

Some 42% of respondents admitted they were more likely to cut spending on clothes, and 21% said they were more likely to try to cut down their weekly supermarket shop.

A spokesman for the smokers' lobby group Forest said: "If people want to give up that's great, but there is no doubt smokers do derive some comfort from tobacco in times of stress.

"It reminds us that smokers are just ordinary people and they deserve to be treated as such."

The Department of Health said smokers were four times more likely to quit with NHS support.

The results of the study, commissioned by McNeil Products Ltd, which makes nicotine replacement therapy products, will be presented to the UK National Smoking Cessation Conference in London on Tuesday.

In total 877 smokers and ex-smokers took part in the study.

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