Surge in smoking among young adults during lockdown, says Sheffield study

Smoking among young adults surged during lockdown, according to a Sheffield study.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 3:44 pm

The number of 18-34 year-olds who smoke increased by 25 per cent in England during the first lockdown, according to a study conducted by the University of Sheffield and UCL.

Funded by Cancer Research UK, the study shows over 652,000 more young adults smoke, compared to before the pandemic.

The researchers from the University of Sheffield and UCL also found that over 4.5 million more adults would be classed as high-risk drinkers during the same period as the number rose by 40 per cent. But this trend was particularly worrying in women, up 55 per cent, as well as people from lower socioeconomic groups – up 64 per cent.

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There has been a surge in smoking among young adults during lockdown, says a Sheffield study

Though existing heavy drinkers did make attempts to cut down, this was only observed in adults from higher socioeconomic groups, suggesting that if trends continue, health inequalities linked to alcohol could worsen.

There were increases in the number of existing smokers quitting successfully and overall levels of smoking in adults remains stable.

Researchers suggest because many people mistakenly believe that smoking and drinking help relieve stress, it’s possible that some may have taken up these for the first time or relapsed to help them ‘cope’.

Colin Angus, Senior Research Fellow with the University of Sheffield’s Alcohol Research Group, said: “This study highlights the wider impacts of the Covid pandemic on people’s behaviour and the extent to which these impacts have varied across the population.

“Some people are drinking and smoking less, but this new study also shows a worrying rise in the number of people drinking at levels likely to harm their health.”