As many as one million smokers in Britain have given up the habit amid the coronavirus pandemic, with young people particularly likely to do so.
Action on Smoking and Health (ash) surveyed 10,000 people across England, Wales and Scotland, including 1,700 smokers who had quit in the past month, before the launch of a fresh anti-tobacco campaign.
The charity calculated that 1,036,000 smokers and people recently abstinent had quit or continued not smoking since Covid-19 broke out in the UK earlier this year.
The survey found that 17 per cent of smokers and ex-smokers aged 16 to 29 claimed to have stopped compared with 13 per cent aged 30 to 49 and seven per cent of those older than 50.
However, Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of Ash, said that while more than one million smokers may have succeeded in stopping smoking since the coronavirus crisis hit Britain, millions more had carried on with the habit.
“This campaign is designed to encourage those who’ve not yet succeeded to wake up and decide today is the day to stop smoking,” Ms Arnott said.
The new drive to stop smoking also features respiratory expert Dr Ruth Sharrock, who said that she sees in every day of her working life the “terrible health problems” caused by smoking.
“But I have also been inspired by those already suffering from smoking-related diseases, who have still managed to quit and get health benefits from this,” Dr Sharrock said.
“Please, do not wait – whether you are healthy now or already unwell because of smoking, today is the day to stop. It can transform your life.”
Research released last month by Ash and University College London found that Covid-19 had helped motivate an “astonishing” number of young people to quit.
Typically smokers of all ages stop at a similar rate but the research found that those under 30 were more than twice as likely to have stopped smoking because of the coronavirus than those over 50.
The British government has warned smokers that they are at a far greater risk of developing serious complications from Covid-19.