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More than half a dozen Stockport children tried to quit smoking during pandemic

More than half a dozen children in Stockport used an NHS service to try and quit smoking during the coronavirus pandemic, figures reveal.

File photo dated 12/03/13 of a man smoking a cigarette. The stress of Covid-19 has fuelled Britain's nicotine habit, with more than half of smokers "stress-smoking" more, and 10% lighting up again after quitting, a survey suggests. Young people in particular are taking refuge in the habit, with 39% of smokers aged 18-34 saying they are now smoking more regularly, analysts Mintel reported. 2021. Issue date: Thursday April 15, 2021.
File photo dated 12/03/13 of a man smoking a cigarette. The stress of Covid-19 has fuelled Britain's nicotine habit, with more than half of smokers "stress-smoking" more, and 10% lighting up again after quitting, a survey suggests. Young people in particular are taking refuge in the habit, with 39% of smokers aged 18-34 saying they are now smoking more regularly, analysts Mintel reported. 2021. Issue date: Thursday April 15, 2021.

More than half a dozen children in Stockport used an NHS service to try and quit smoking during the coronavirus pandemic, figures reveal.

The charity Action on Smoking and Health said the stress of lockdown likely affected young people, as figures show they were the least successful age group to kick the habit across England.

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NHS Digital data shows eight under-18s in Stockport set a date to quit using the NHS Stop Smoking Service between April last year and March.

At follow-up meetings held a month later, three said they had given up.

The previous year, one smokers under the age of 18 successfully quit, out of three who set a target date.

Of the 1,700 child smokers looking to kick the habit across England last year, 45% reported quitting.

Though up from 41% the previous year, it was still the lowest success rate of any category, and well behind the 61% of people aged 60 and over who achieved the same.

ASH said there is some evidence that the pandemic has changed smokers' relationship to tobacco.

Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of the charity, added: "Recent research highlighted that younger people appear to have been taking up or going back to smoking in larger numbers.

"It appears likely that for younger people the stress of lockdown has led to more smoking while for older smokers health fears have prompted more quitting.

"Overall, people have been quitting with greater success in the pandemic."

In Stockport, 52% of people of all ages said they had successfully quit smoking last year – up from 37% the year before.

Nationally, the self-reported quit rate rose from 51% to 59% over this period, though success varied significantly between 82% in North East Lincolnshire and just 21% in Harrow.

Jon Foster, senior policy officer at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: "If the Government is serious about reaching its own ambition for a smoke-free England by 2030, then they need to reverse the 50% cuts that local stop smoking services have seen over the past few years.

"The Government should implement a smoke-free fund, using profits from tobacco companies to pay for measures to prevent people from starting to smoke, and to support those who do to quit."

The Department for Health and Social Care said UK smoking rates are at record low levels, and the Government was on track to make England smoke free by 2030.

A spokeswoman added: “We are addressing the damaging health implications of smoking right across the country, especially where rates remain stubbornly high.

"Our new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities will support efforts to level up public health and ensure no communities are left behind."