Cigarettes and alcohol

May 06, 2010, 9:20 PM GMT+0

The recession may have had a detrimental effect on the health of the British population, reveals a new Healthy Living report. Despite the report’s findings that a majority of British citizens are now seriously concerned about their health and general well being, 15% of the smoking population smokes more now than they did a year ago.

18% of smokers from less affluent groups smoke more now than they did previously, compared with 12% of smokers from better off groups. There is also a spike in smoking among smokers who live alone, of whom 1 in 4 are smoking more now than they did a year ago – ten percent above the national average. In total, these figures equate to 1.6 million British smokers who have increased the amount they smoke over the past 12 months.

James McCoy, Research Director for YouGov SixthSense, commented on these findings: ‘We are getting a clear picture of the effect the recession has had on the nation’s health. It is now possible to identify the areas most sensitive to the fallout, with singletons and those struggling to make ends meet the most likely to rely on cigarettes as a crutch in trying times.’

It is not only smoking that Britons are turning to in order to better deal with the trials of recession. Despite continuous warnings in the press of the dangers of drinking too much, nine percent of those who drink – which equates to 3.7 million UK drinkers – have actually increased their alcohol intake over the past year.

And while smoking has increased among the less affluent, alcohol’s status as the ‘middle class drug’ of choice is buoyed up by the Healthy Living report, which signifies higher levels of daily drinking amongst those with increased disposable income. Similarly, the more prosperous are less inclined to view drinking as an ‘occasional’ vice, and are more likely than their less well-off counterparts to unwind after work with an alcoholic drink. McCoy continues: ‘Although many have lost their jobs, those still working are struggling to meet deadlines in an increasingly pressurised work environment. The recession has eked its way into all our lives, but the greater tendency among the better off to turn to alcohol can be explained by the fact that these groups have more disposable income.’

It seems that when the going gets tough, the many of us who look to alcohol and cigarettes as a balm to life’s daily grind will simply continue to do so; the pressures of recession and economic fallout will only serve to increase the trend.

See the full report

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