More Quit Smoking Support to Reduce Risks of Pandemics

The tobacco control charity ASH Wales are calling for more action to improve the health of smokers as new research suggests it would reduce the impact of future pandemics.

The research, conducted by the Public Health Collaborating Unit of Bangor University and Public Health Wales, suggests more needs to be done to tackle health-harming behaviours to reduce infection rates and improve outcomes.

The research combined findings from 53 reviews, which included over 2000 individual pieces of research, on the topic of health-harming behaviors (smoking, alcohol abuse, drug use, obesity, physical inactivity) and their association with different infectious diseases.

The findings suggest that individuals with existing health-harming behaviours are at increased risk of contracting and developing severe forms of a range of infectious diseases, including influenza, tuberculosis, hepatitis and Covid-19.

The research suggests that to protect our population and global health care systems, more must be done to limit behaviours which compound health and increase the severity of infectious disease.

UK studies have reinforced the links between smoking and severe forms of infectious disease, notably a study conducted by the University of Oxford which found that smokers were 80% more likely to be hospitalised after contracting Covid-19.

The World Health Organisation has also highlighted links between smoking and the increased risk of contracting tuberculosis (TB), marking that smoking impairs patients’ responses to treatment of the disease.

Studies have also shown that smoking can increase the risk of developing influenza, with one study marking that smokers are 5 times more likely to develop the infectious disease.

The new research has resulted in the tobacco control organisation ASH Wales to call for increased smoking cessation support in Wales.

Suzanne Cass, CEO of ASH Wales, said: “Smoking is the largest cause for preventable death and disease in Wales, and the pandemic has taught us that Covid compounds the already high health risks caused by smoking.

“The new research suggests that more must be done to safeguard population health, not only for Covid, but for additional pandemics that may come in the future.

“In light of the new research, I would urge Welsh Government to reinforce smoking  cessation efforts and services in Wales, to safeguard population health against both communicable and non-communicable disease.”

The Welsh Government is currently embarking on a plan to drive down smoking prevalence in Wales. The plan is currently in consultation, and will aim to reduce smoking prevalence in Wales to 5% by 2030.

The latest National Survey for Wales smoking bulletin estimates that that 17% of Welsh adults still smoke, which equates to approximately 440,000 people in Wales. Smoking is estimated cost the NHS in Wales £302 million each year.

For further information contact:

Simon Scheeres | Policy and Public Relations Manager | | 07841571516

Back to all news

Tags Click a tag to see more on its topic


Save this article for later

Become a member

Benefit from early access to content, support in hosting your own events and more with a Public Health Network Cymru membership.

Back to the top