A surge in smoking among young people during the pandemic has put a 40-year decline in the habit into reverse, a study by a former Government health adviser has found.
The report projected 600,000 more smokers than previously envisaged next year as more people have taken up smoking to cope with the stress of unemployment and mental ill health during the pandemic.
This means that it will be ‘virtually impossible’ for the Government to meet one of its key health targets of reducing smoking to five per cent of the population by 2030 unless it takes ‘drastic and immediate action’ especially among young people, says the study.
The analysis by Richard Sloggett, a former policy adviser to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, shows that the proportion of smokers in the population rose from 14.8 per cent to 15 per cent in the year to March 2021 - a total of seven million people.
That is only the second increase in the past 14 years - the previous being 2014/15 - and reverses a decline that has see...
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