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Quit smoking to improve mental health, urges charity

As it reaches out to smokers ahead of tomorrow's national No Smoking Day (March 10), UK charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is higlighting the beneficial impact of quitting on both mental and physical health. 

This comes as it emerges that smokers who quit for six weeks or more are happier and have better mental health than those who carry on smoking, according to a new Cochrane analysis.
 
In addition, reductions in anxiety and depression in those who quit smoking were found to be at least as great as from taking anti-depressants. 

Smokers are also found to have poorer mental wellbeing than non-smokers, scoring worse than the population as a whole on every mental wellbeing indicator, according to new data from Public Health England (PHE).

Levels of anxiety and unhappiness increased between 2019 and 2020, with 1.6 million smokers having high levels of anxiety in 2019. As anxiety increased for the whole population in 2020, this rose with 2.4 million smokers reporting high levels of anxiety in 2020, an increase of 50 per cent. Smokers reporting low levels of happiness also rose, from 900,000 in 2019 to 1.3 million in 2020, according to the PHE research.
 
“After the year we’ve all had, some smokers might feel now is not the time to stop,” said ASH chief Deborah Arnott.

“The opposite is true, put smoking behind you and a brighter future beckons. Using nicotine replacement, whether patches gum or vapes, can help deal with any withdrawal symptoms, which last at most a matter of weeks. Be confident that once you’ve put smoking behind you not only will you be healthier and wealthier but feel happier too.”

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Mark Rowland commented: “There is a mental health crisis emerging from the pandemic and greater action is needed to prevent this.

“Our own 'Mental Health in the Pandemic' study has shown that since lockdown measures were implemented as many as four million people across the UK have been smoking more to cope with the stress of the pandemic.

"Helping more people to stop smoking can play a role in getting the mental health of the nation back on track. We’re pleased to be supporting the call for smokers to start their next quit attempt on No Smoking Day.”

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