Sarah Chapman and Selena Ryan-Vig share evidence from a new Cochrane Special Collection, COVID-19: Effective options for quitting smoking during the pandemic. (Page last updated 27 September 2021).
It’s a harsh reality that if you’re a smoker you’re more likely to get acute respiratory infections and have a higher risk of those infections becoming severe. The increased risks may come from the damage smoking does to your lungs and the transmission of a virus from hand to mouth while you’re smoking. Exposure to second-hand smoke also increases the risk of getting acute respiratory infections. Given that we are now facing an unprecedented threat from the coronavirus (COVID-19), an acute respiratory infection, there has never been a better time to stop smoking, and the World Health Organization is urging people to do so.
Evidence-based support to quit smoking
But quitting is hard for many, and perhaps particularly so at a time of great stress and when many of our routines have been so suddenly disrupted. What’s more, right now we can’t access face-to-face, in-person support for help with things like stopping smoking. However, there are other options for quitting smoking, with evidence to support them.
Cochrane Tobacco Addiction has put together a Special Collection of reviews which provide the best available evidence to inform your decisions on ways you might try to quit smoking. The Cochrane Reviews focus on interventions that are feasible under public health measures that restrict face to face contact with health practitioners.
We also have some blogshots (mini infographics) here, giving you the key information from some of these Cochrane Reviews, and some blogs, which you’ll find listed below.
With the publication of this new Special Collection this week, Cochrane author, Nicola Lindson from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, UK, said “If one method doesn’t work, don’t be discouraged – evidence shows some people need to try to quit many times before successfully doing so. Just because you haven’t been able to quit smoking before, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to now.”
Autumn update – putting your lungs first this Stoptober
October is upon us and that brings with it Stoptober, the annual campaign encouraging smokers to quit, based on evidence that if a smoker can quit for 28 days, they are five times more likely to quit for good. This year, Public Health England is encouraging smokers to put their lungs first, strengthen their immune system and breathe easier ahead of flu season.
This comes in the context of a rare bit of good news this year that, in 2020, smoking among adults in England is at a record low (just under 14%) and that there has been an increase of nearly a quarter (22%) in quit attempts compared to 2019 and an increase of almost two-thirds in the quitting success rate from 14% to 23%. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) reported in July that a million people have stopped smoking since the start of the pandemic in Britain, with many more young people quitting than older ones.
If you can, this is a great time to stop smoking.
There is also a review on Internet-based interventions for smoking cessation.
Evidently Cochrane blogs on quitting smoking
- Chapman S. “Nicotine replacement therapy: new evidence on help to quit smoking”. 18 April 2019.
- Livingstone-Banks J. “Affordable ways to support people who want to stop smoking”. 31 May 2019.
- Roberts D. “Texting 2 Quit: using mobile phones to support people quit smoking”. 18 May 2016, revised 30 October 2019.
- Walton R and Lindson N. “What is the best way to stop smoking – should I stop suddenly or cut down first?” 25 October 2019.
The Cochrane Special Collection, COVID-19: Effective options for quitting smoking during the pandemic is one of several Special Collections relevant to COVID-19, other recently published collections include evidence relevant to critical care and infection control; and prevention measures.
You can also find Cochrane resources and news on Coronavirus (COVID-19). This page will be continually updated with information relating to the pandemic and the various related activities that Cochrane is undertaking in response. We also have a blog Cochrane evidence on COVID-19: a round-up, which gathers together lots of evidence on this topic and is also being updated as new evidence emerges.
Join in the conversation on Twitter with @CochraneUK and @CochraneTAG or leave a comment on the blog. Please note, we will not publish comments that link to commercial sites or appear to endorse commercial products.
Sarah Chapman and Selena Ryan-Vig have nothing to disclose.
Page last updated 27 September 2021.