It’s official… Lockdown has increased our smoking habits.

However, many of us will not have properly considered the long-term consequence of this, such as the negative health issues or critical illnesses that are linked to the habit, including those related to addiction, breathing difficulties and cancers.

When it comes to sorting life insurance cover, the cost depends on a few things:

  • Your age


  • Whether you smoke


  • Your general health and lifestyle


  • How much cover you want


  • How long you want to be covered for

Basically, the more likely you are to make a claim on your life insurance policy, the more expensive your premiums will be, just like any other type of insurance. The younger and healthier you are, the more affordable life insurance will be for you, and smoking is a key factor that comes into consideration for this.

For the following article, we collaborated with Leena Sankla, Director of Public Health at Solutions 4 Health, to discuss the impact of lockdown on the nation’s smoking habits, the health implications of smoking, as well as sharing expert advice on how to quit and what the long-term benefits of doing so are. Read on to find out more.

Smoking habits in the UK, and the impact of lockdown

Smoking affects all parts of the body, from head to toe, and is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, accounting for nearly 80,000 deaths each year. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease.

Based on a recent YouGov Survey (13th May 2020), about 2.2 million people in the UK may be smoking more than usual during the coronavirus crisis despite the serious harm it does to respiratory and immune systems. The key reasons for an increase are due to the heightened anxiety and stress due to the lockdown and the impact of COVID-19 as reasons for their increased smoking.

The health implications of smoking

Leena commented that “in the context of COVID-19, smoking is known to be a risk factor for acute respiratory infections. The World Health Organization, the UK Chief Medical Officer, reports from the New England Journal and a more recent one in China have claimed that those who smoke are 14 times more likely to develop severe symptoms of coronavirus.

“In addition, the repetitive hand to mouth movement provides an easy route of entry for the virus, putting smokers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. In light of this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a more important time to stop smoking. It will also help alleviate the huge pressures on the NHS. It is never too late to quit, no matter your age”.

How to quit smoking during lockdown

Leena gives her actionable tips on how to quit smoking in lockdown:

  • Make a list of reasons to quit

Verbalising your reasons for quitting, out loud or on paper, can help you to get into the right frame of mind to quit.

  • Think positive

You might have tried to quit smoking before and not managed it, but do not let that put you off. Look back at the things your experience has taught you and think about how you are really going to do it this time.

  • Make a plan to quit smoking

Make a promise, set a date, and stick to it. Sticking to the "not a drag" rule can really help. Whenever you find yourself in difficulty, say to yourself, "I won't even have a single drag", and stick with this until the cravings pass. Think ahead to times where it might be difficult and plan your actions and escape routes in advance.

  • Consider your diet

Is your after-dinner cigarette your favourite? A US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Others, including cheese, fruit, and vegetables, make cigarettes taste terrible, so swap your usual steak or burger for a veggie pizza instead. You may also want to change your routine at or after mealtimes. Getting up and doing the dishes straight away or settling down in a room where you don't smoke may help.

  • Change your drink

The same US study as above also looked at drinks. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea, and coffee all make cigarettes taste better, so drink more water and juice. Some people find simply changing their drink (for example, switching from wine to a vodka and tomato juice) affects their need to reach for a cigarette.

  • Identify when you crave cigarettes

A craving can last 5 minutes. Before you give up, make a list of 5-minute strategies. As an example for after lockdown, you could leave the party for a minute, dance or go to the bar. And think about this: the combination of smoking and drinking raises your risk of mouth cancer by 38 times.

  • Get some stop smoking support

If friends or family members want to give up, too, suggest to them that you give up together. There is also a free local Stop Smoking Service across the Country, and with their help, you are 3 times as likely to quit successfully. They offer free one-to-one support along with stop smoking medicines, which are available for the cost of a prescription. During the coronavirus outbreak, local Stop Smoking Services are unable to offer face-to-face support, however, they can still support you in your quit attempt using other contact methods such as telephone, video calling or smoking cessation apps.

  • Get moving

A review of scientific studies has proved exercise, even a 5-minute walk or stretch, cuts cravings and may help your brain produce anti-craving chemicals.

  • Keep your hands and mouth busy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can double your chances of success. As well as patches, there are tablets, lozenges, gum, and a nasal spray. And if you like holding a cigarette, there are handheld products like the inhalator or e-cigarettes. Or try putting your drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy.


Benefits of giving up smoking

The benefits of giving up smoking include:

  • After 24 hours– heart rate and blood pressure will drop

  • After one week – your breathing will feel better
  • After 2 weeks to 3 months – your circulation improves, and your lung function increases
  • After 1 year – coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs (called cilia) start to regain normal function in your lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection
  • After 5 years – your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, and bladder is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years
  • After 10 years – the risk of heart problems is the same as someone who has never smoked

As well as the above, by quitting smoking there will also be less chance of severe symptoms if you get COVID-19, you could save up to £252 a month (based on if you smoked 20 cigarettes a day), and your application for life insurance cover will be more preferential.

At Cavendish Online, we offer various options to help you find the best insurance for you. You can apply for a policy online yourself, in just a few minutes. Alternatively, you can choose to speak with one of our specialists over the phone, who can guide you through the process and help you choose the best cover for you and your family. 

For help with your new life insurance policy, call one of our consultants on 01392 241 850

Disclaimer: The tips in this article are not intended as a substitute for medical advice and should not replace the relationship that exists between a patient and their existing healthcare provider. Cavendish Online are not liable or responsible for the accuracy of the advice provided by third party experts, nor for the content or operation of any third party websites, webpages, or resources which have been linked to within this article.

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