A combination of stress and more free time during the pandemic has overshadowed the fitness trend as more people take up smoking across the UK.

With national no smoking day earlier this month raising awareness on the important matter, Quotezone.co.uk decided to conduct some research using a sample of over 5,000 life insurance policies.

The research shows that the number of non-smokers fell by almost 10% in the last six months of 2021, compared to the first six months of the year. The data also shows that this isn’t simply a seasonal trend, as the number of non-smokers were actually on the rise across the same time period in both 2019 (20%) and 2020 (8%).

Despite the potential impacts of Covid-19 on lung function, a recent study has found that uptake in smoking has been prompted by stress and boredom during the pandemic.*  It’s likely that ex-smokers picked up old habits as a response to lockdowns and furlough, and have been unable to kick the habit even after restrictions have been lifted.

Although the personal risks of smoking are well documented, it’s the impact on the NHS that people are less aware of – and official figures show that more than half a million hospital admissions a year are attributable to smoking. This paints a bleak picture for public health services as this figure is only likely to increase post-pandemic.

In response to this, the NHS are helping people kick the habit with a new scheme, where every pharmacy in England will be able to offer stop smoking support to patients when they’re discharged from hospital. The government has proposed more drastic measures such as banning under 25s from buying cigarettes in a bid to make the UK smoke-free in less than a decade.**

However, there are immediate steps people can take to help quit. The NHS has created a self-help list, with suggestions on how to help people stop smoking such as; physically make a plan to help quit smoking, vary your drink choice and make a change from the norm, identify when you crave cigarettes and plan a distraction, review your diet, get some official stop smoking support, get moving with a new exercise or hobby, make non-smoking friends to help avoid temptation, and make a list of personal reasons to quit.

Greg Wilson, Founder of Quotezone.co.uk, comments: “When we analysed our life insurance data, we were expecting to see a continued fall in the number of smokers and so it came as a worrying surprise that more people were smoking than before the pandemic.

“Aside from health issues, even just one cigarette a day has the potential to affect your life insurance policy and drive-up premiums. Most insurance providers don’t differentiate between the various types of cigarettes, vapes and e-cigarettes – so you must make sure to answer all questions accurately and honestly.  If you ever need to make a claim, the insurance provider will investigate and if you’re found to have misled them, you may not be covered.”

Quotezone.co.uk is one of the leading insurance comparison websites in the UK, helping over 3 million users find a more competitive deal on their insurance.  People across the UK can use the site to get specialist quotes for everything from life insurance to health insurance to mortgage protection insurance.