A SOUTH Cumbria GP has urged residents not to turn to smoking as a coping mechanism during lockdown.

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day this Sunday, medical professionals in south Cumbria have spoken about potential strategies to help people quit or stay off smoking during the lockdown period - which has had adverse effects on many resident’s mental health and wellbeing.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, 14.7 per cent of people aged 18 years and above in the UK smoked cigarettes in 2018, which equates to around 7.2 million people in the population.

In Great Britain, 6.3 per cent of people in 2018 said they currently used an e-cigarette, which equates to approximately 3.2 million adults in the population.

Last year, the NHS reported almost 500,000 hospital admissions attributable to smoking - representing four per cent of all hospital admissions in England for 2017.

Nearly 80,000 people died in 2017 as a result of smoking-related conditions, according to NHS data.

Dr Geoff Jolliffe, clinical chair of Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group said: “There’s no doubt that some people will be experiencing stress due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the effects of lockdown.

“One of the most unhelpful things you can do for yourself is to turn to something unhealthy in order to help cope, such as smoking.

“Every year thousands of people in the UK die due to smoking, with many living with debilitating smoking-related illness.

“Most of us know that smoking can cause lung cancer, but it’s important to remember that smoking is related to 15 other cancers, including cancer of the throat, stomach and liver.

“If you’re struggling during this pandemic, try to practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation or tai-chi. Remember to exercise regularly, eat well and to connect with others, as all of these things can help reduce stress.

“Evidence has shown that a person is more likely to give up smoking when they have the right support around them."

Call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044 or visit: www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/10-self-help-tips-to-stop-smoking for help to smoking.