'There's never been a better time to quit' statement from NSW Health and Cancer Institute NSW:
An increasing number of people who smoke are reaching out to support services in NSW, with new data highlighting COVID–19 may be giving them even more reason to quit.
"This World No Tobacco Day will be the ideal time for many people to quit," says Professor David Currow, Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW.
"We know tobacco smoking can extend the duration and severity of viral infections," explains Professor Currow.
"There's no such thing as safe smoking. Any kind of tobacco smoking is harmful to the body, including the heart and lungs. COVID–19 can also harm these organs."
Early research shows people who smoke are at higher risk of developing more severe COVID–19 infections.
Additionally, the changes to daily routines related to COVID–19 are an opportunity to change smoking behaviours. New routines and places for work and study, as well as changes to social lives, may provide opportunity to avoid situations that can be cues to smoke.
While many people are facing additional stress at this challenging time, quitting smoking can actually reduce stress. Evidence suggests quitting smoking for at least six weeks improves mental health, mood, and quality of life.
For information, tips and tools to support people to quit visit
www.iCanQuit.com.au, call NSW Quitline on 13 7848 or talk to a health care professional.
How are people seeking support?
Data from NSW quit support services indicate smokers are taking the opportunity during the COVID–19 pandemic to quit.
During March and April 2020 visits to the iCanQuit website, which offers support to smokers to quit and stay quit, increased by 68 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
Similarly there was a 19 per cent increase in calls handled by NSW Quitline over this period.
Find out more about
smoking and COVID–19.
New data on smoking in NSW
People in NSW are smoking less, with a decline in the average number of cigarettes smoked each day from 13.6 in 2017 to 11.6 in 2019.
The 2019 NSW Smoking and Health survey, released today by the Cancer Institute NSW, asked more than 3,000 people across the state about tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.
The survey also reveals 30 per cent of people in NSW who smoke think about quitting every day, while nearly half are seriously considering quitting in the next six months.
"We know that many smokers want to quit," says Professor Currow. "We are hopeful they are taking this opportunity to get support to quit successfully."
In 2019, 11.2 per cent of adults aged 16 years or older in NSW smoked daily. This is a decline in smoking from 14.2 per cent in 2009 and has been relatively stable since 2015.
Daily and occasional smoking combined was 15.5 per cent in 2019.
Read the full
2019 NSW Smoking and Health Report.