When the COVID-19 outbreak hit in March, a campaign was developed to encourage people to quit smoking to improve their health and reduce their risk from the virus.
Smoking and COVID risk
As a novel coronavirus, the evidence about the impacts of smoking is still developing. However, based on available evidence, the UK Government advises:
Smokers generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infections and getting more severe symptoms once infected. COVID-19 symptoms may, therefore, be more severe if you smoke.
Stopping smoking will bring immediate health benefits, including those with an existing smoking-related disease. This is particularly important for both the individual and for our NHS at a time of intense pressure on the health service.
Source: Gov UK
In March, the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty highlighted the risk to smokers from coronavirus and had clear advice on quitting.
“To be clear on smokers, my recommendation is that they stop smoking, if you’re going to give up smoking, this is a very good moment to do it.”
– Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer
Coinciding with the first national lockdown in March, the Quit for COVID campaign was launched. This combined local and national action over the months that followed to raise awareness of the risks of smoking and encourage quits.
To date, the localised Smokefree Sheffield campaign has been seen over 2.3 million times, 10,000 printed materials have been distributed and has over 5,000 visits to the website.
- Paid and organic social activity using the hashtag #QuitForCOVID.
- Leaflets and stickers distributed via food parcels.
- Advert on ITV Hub broadcast across Sheffield reaching over 23,000 people.
- Radio advert on Hallam FM reaching over 366K people.
- Creation and distribution of smoking in pregnancy leaflets to Jessop Wing.
1 million people have stopped smoking since the COVID pandemic hit Britain and a further 440,000 smokers tried to quit during this period.