Irish people are smoking more since start of pandemic, says study 5 days ago

Irish people are smoking more since start of pandemic, says study

People are also drinking more too.

Irish people are smoking more since the beginning of the pandemic, a new study has found.

According to research conducted by the Marie Keating Foundation, the majority of smokers have been smoking more cigarettes per day than they did at the beginning of the pandemic.

Of those who smoke, 44% said they are smoking at least 6 – 10 more cigarettes per day, while as many as 13% said that the number of cigarettes they smoke each day has increased by as many as 20 or more.

This comes following the launch of the Marie Keating Foundation's new lifestyle choice campaign, ‘Your Health: Your Choice.' The charity is aiming to encourage Irish people to make healthy lifestyle choices in a bid to decrease their risk of developing cancer.

As well as increased smoking habits, the study also found that more people are bingeing on alcohol and junk food.  While one quarter of all adults claimed that they are drinking the same amount as they were before the pandemic, 1 in 8 people said they are drinking more now than they were before.

Similarly, 29% of respondents said they are snacking more at home and 27% said they are eating more sugary foods, like biscuits and chocolate, since last March.

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One third of Irish people also said their mental health has suffered since last year, a shift that the charity has said could be a significant factor when it comes to maintaining healthy habits and behaviours.

“It has never been more important for us all to take a serious look at the choices we are making in relation to our own personal health," said Helen Forristal, Director of Nursing Services at the Marie Keating Foundation.

"As we start 2021 in another lockdown, the prioritisation of Covid-19 and its impact on our lives will continue for at least the next few months, if not longer. But there is so much we can do while at home and safe to ensure we are reducing our risk of cancer into the future and keeping as well as we can."

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Expert in positive health and lifestyle medicine Dr Mark Rowe added: "We have a physiological reaction to toxic stress which depletes willpower, making it harder to motivate ourselves and make positive lifestyle changes.

"It has never been more important to become an active participant in your own health and wellbeing. The benefits of taking small positive steps to improve your health can pay a rich long-term dividend. Reduce your risk of many chronic health conditions, including cancer."

Research has shown that not smoking, eating a healthy diet, being physically active, limiting alcohol intake, avoiding too much sun, and taking up all cancer screenings and all recommended vaccines can help prevent four out of 10 major cancers.