IT has been a difficult and stressful several months, yet despite this many smokers have made it their New Year’s resolution to try to quit, a very laudable aspiration.

Figures from a UK survey show that just under half of smokers interviewed wished to stop in the New Year. Yet sadly almost 70% had lit up within the first week of January, with over half smoking more than they were before their decision to quit.

With many more people working from home, this not only raises the risks to individuals themselves, but also those in the same household. Smoking claims a startling one hundred thousand lives ever year in the UK, with the main causes of death being lung cancer, chronic obstructive airways/pulmonary disease (COPD) and ischaemic heart disease (IHD). The charity ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) calculates another 11,000 deaths last year were as a result of exposure to second hand smoke.

I hope to present current evidence and perhaps suggest ways for those thinking about quitting to make steps towards that goal.

Statistics on smoking show that since the 1970s there has been a rapid decline in the numbers of individuals smoking, down from half of the adult population to one in six, a figure that should be highlighted and celebrated. So now is the perfect time to think about kicking the habit if you can. Most people are aware of the deleterious effects of smoking on every aspect of our being, yet showing pictures of charred lungs, or persons in the throes of a stroke has not been shown to increase desire to stop among smokers, such that many tobacco companies have abandoned this in favour of plain packaging.

Those wishing to quit any vice have to be “in the zone”, to quote an often-used phrase. There has to be a reason for stopping, be that the desire for better health and wellbeing or the realisation of the actual cost of the habit, which will run into several thousand pounds a year for tobacco. Encouragement from those around and literature emphasising the benefits of smoking cessation may prompt positive steps.

There has been the suggestion that smoking is protective against Covid. Not only is it disappointing that data could be misrepresented to construe this, it is also untrue.

The issue of e-cigarettes, or vaping, remains contentious. Evidence shows that e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking tobacco.