Many used lockdown to give up smoking

It appears many smokers have used the coronavirus lockdown to try to quit.
It appears many smokers have used the coronavirus lockdown to try to quit.

There are signs that thousands of Australians used the coronavirus shutdown to give up smoking.

Federal health Minister Greg Hunt says between January and May this year, the My Quitbuddy app was downloaded more than 24,000 times, a staggering 310 per cent increase over the same time last year.

"These figures are very encouraging and I congratulate those who have taken the first step," Mr Hunt said in a statement on Sunday, coinciding with World No Tobacco Day.

"Quitting is not always easy, but assistance is available and the benefits are significant."

He said there was growing evidence that smokers were more likely to develop a severe case of COVID-19 if they contracted the virus.

"However, there is currently insufficient evidence to conclude whether smoking - either cigarettes or e-cigarettes - increases a person's susceptibility to contracting the coronavirus," he said.

"Irrespective of the relationship between smoking and COVID-19, quitting smoking at any age is beneficial to a person's health. There is no safe level of tobacco consumption."

The Australian government aims to reduce smoking to less than 10 per cent by 2025 through its 10-year National Preventive Health Strategy and has committed $31.6 million over four years from 2019/20 to reduce smoking prevalence.

This includes $20 million over three years to develop a new National Tobacco Campaign to encourage smokers to quit.

Australian Associated Press