A Sheffield medical clinic is encouraging people across the city to set a date to quit smoking for No Smoking Day which took place yesterday.
This year’s campaign from Smokefree Sheffield is focusing on the importance of quitting for mental health benefits as COVID-19 continues to take its toll.
Research from the University of Sheffield revealed a three-fold increase in the number of people reporting clinically significant levels of anxiety and depression during lockdown.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “We’re hearing from smokers who want to quit but feel it’s just too stressful right now.
“We want to reassure people that quitting smoking is one of the best things they can do for their mental health and there’s support available to anyone who needs it.”
A GP Patient Survey found that there are 1.6 million smokers in England with a long-term mental health condition. This is equivalent to 1 in 4 of all smokers.
Greg Fell, Director of Public Health Sheffield, said: “There are lots of misconceptions about the link between smoking and mental health.
“Many people turn to cigarettes when they are anxious or stressed in the belief that it calms them down or helps them relax. However, the opposite is true.”
Steve Liu*, a 22-year-old student who has smoked for ten years, said: “As a long-term smoker, I turn to cigarettes because of nicotine instead of wanting to relax.
“But I still support this campaign, which can help most smokers who do not develop strong dependence to quit to be healthier.”
No Smoking Day is a national campaign that encourages the nation’s smokers to make a quit attempt. The theme this year is “quitting smoking doesn’t have to be stressful.”
Smokefree Sheffield says: “Smoking is still the biggest preventable cause of death and illness in Sheffield.”
They also reveal that most people want to quit and smoking rates in Sheffield are the lowest they’ve ever been.
*Name changed to provide anonymity.