The number of young adults who smoke in England rose by a quarter in the first lockdown, a study funded by Cancer Research UK has suggested. 

The 25% increase in the number of smokers aged 18 to 34 translates into a rise of more than 652,000 young adults. 

The researchers from University College London and the University of Sheffield also found a 99% rise in people across all groups successfully quitting during lockdown compared with before the pandemic. 

High-risk drinking became more common across all groups, but there was a greater increase among women and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Somerset County Gazette:

The Cancer Research UK-funded paper, published in the journal Addiction, said: "In conclusion, the first Covid-19 lockdown in England in March–July 2020 was associated with increased smoking prevalence among younger adults and an increased prevalence of high-risk drinking among all socio-demographic groups.

"Smoking cessation activity also increased: more younger smokers made quit attempts during lockdown and more smokers quit successfully."

According to the charity, smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer, known to cause at least 15 different types of the disease.

Dr Sarah Jackson, lead author and principal research fellow at University College London, said: “The first lockdown was unprecedented in the way it changed people’s day-to-day lives.

"We found that many smokers took this opportunity to stop smoking, which is fantastic.

"However, the first lockdown was also a period of great stress for many people, and we saw rates of smoking and risky drinking increase among groups hardest hit by the pandemic.

"It will be important to keep a close eye on how these increases in smoking and drinking develop over time to ensure appropriate support is made accessible for anyone who needs it." 

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: "Public health campaigns and prevention services have a vital role to play in helping people to quit and also maintaining the motivation of those who have already made positive changes.

"The upcoming tobacco control plan for England is a key opportunity for the government to reduce smoking rates, but this can only be achieved with sufficient investment.

"A Smokefree Fund, using tobacco industry funds, but without industry interference, could pay for the comprehensive measures needed to prevent people from starting to smoke and helping those who do, to quit."

Somerset County Gazette:

The Smoking Map of Britain, created by Smoke-Free Future, shows the percentage of people who smoke in every UK constituency. 

The map also ranks constituencies by smoking prevalence. 

The Somerset constituency with the higher percentage of smokers is Bridgwater and West Somerset with a smoking prevalence of around 16.7%. 

That puts the constituency in joint 507th place out of 632. 

Smoking prevalence in Wells is approximately 16.5%, putting it at joint 491st place in the rankings. 

Some local constituencies have lower rates: The smoking prevalence rate in North East Somerset and Bath is 13%, Taunton Deane's is 12.9%, and Yeovil's is 12.5%.  

The UK constituencies with the highest smoking prevalences include Great Yarmouth (23.4%), Blackpool South (23.4%), Corby (22.4%), and Great Grimsby (22.2%).