Smokers are too stressed to quit

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  • The recession has made smokers give up on their plans to quit, new research says.

    Why is smoking in the news again?

    The research, funded by McNeil Products, has revealed that almost 1 in 4 smokers are delaying their plans to quit because of the recession. And more than 1 in 4 say they’re just too stressed to quit.

    Instead of cutting down on cigarettes, those surveyed said they were more likely to cut down on spending on their supermarket shop and on clothes.

    What is making people so stressed?

    According to the research, job insecurity, losing their job and money worries are more likely to make people smoke more.

    Unsurprisingly, almost 3 out of 4 of the smokers surveyed said they find smoking comforting when they’re stressed and a quarter said they smoke more then they used to.

    This isn’t the first time the recession has had an impact on people’s health – just a few weeks ago research revealed that work worries are stopping people from getting a good night’s sleep

    Does smoking make people less stressed then?

    Not at all. Robert West, Cancer Research UK‘s tobacco expert, explains: ‘Smokers actually end up more stressed than if they did not smoke at all.

    ‘Research suggests that there are two reasons why smoking is actually worse for people when they’re stressed.

    ‘The first is that smokers come to believe that smoking helps with stress – but the stress is actually caused by nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

    ‘The second is that they get rid of nicotine from their body more quickly when they are stressed and need to smoke more to keep their blood nicotine levels up.

    ‘It may be that just taking a few minutes out and breathing steadily (as when puffing a cigarette) is the thing that really helps.’

    What have the experts said?

    Jennifer Percival, Tobacco Policy Advisor at the Royal College of Nursing, London, said: ‘This study shows that over 2 million people are delaying plans to quit and exposing themselves to the harmful effects of smoking for longer than they need to.

    ‘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.’

    How else do people cope with stress?

    According to a poll we recently ran on goodtoknow, almost 1 in 4 of you comfort eat when you’re stressed and 1 in 7 drink alcohol. More than 1 in 10 scream and shout and as many as 1 in 8 admitted to going shopping when they’re feeling on edge.

    However, 1 in 10 said they exercise when they feel stressed, while 12% have a bath and 15% talk to someone.

    Last week’s news: Skin cancer is on the rise

    Where to next?

    A medical explanation of stress
    Visit goodtoknow’s stop smoking clinic
    10 tips for beating stress

    More help
    Cancer Research UK