Socialising is the main cause for increase in smoking - survey

New research carried out on behalf of Aviva Health Insurance has revealed that 61%1 of Connacht and Ulster smokers (including those living in Donegal) claim an increase in socialising as the reason for smoking more during the Christmas period. In addition, over half (56%1) of Connacht and Ulster smokers are planning to quit the habit in the New Year during Lung Cancer Awareness Month, with nearly a fifth (18%1) of all people surveyed admitting to smoking either full-time or part-time.

New research carried out on behalf of Aviva Health Insurance has revealed that 61%1 of Connacht and Ulster smokers (including those living in Donegal) claim an increase in socialising as the reason for smoking more during the Christmas period. In addition, over half (56%1) of Connacht and Ulster smokers are planning to quit the habit in the New Year during Lung Cancer Awareness Month, with nearly a fifth (18%1) of all people surveyed admitting to smoking either full-time or part-time.

Statistics from the Aviva research also showed that more than half of smokers (56%1) smoked more than usual over the Christmas period, with 44%1 admitting that they would smoke a full pack or more than they would in a normal week over the Christmas break. Meanwhile, 17%1 stated “I have more free time” as the reason for the increase in smoking and 39%1 as “It’s outside my normal routine”, while other reasons included “No work restrictions”, “Boredom” and “I’m treating myself”. With routine back on the agenda, tighter budgets and less emphasis on socialising, January appears to be the ideal time for many smokers to reevaluate why they smoke and give up the habit in the New Year.

Recent figures from the Office of Tobacco Control show that while there has been a decline in smoking in Ireland since the introduction of the work-place smoking ban, 23.6%2 of Irish people still smoke. The research also shows that a higher percentage of men (25%2) are smokers, with 22.2%2 female smokers. Furthermore, the ongoing trend of young smokers remains, with smoking rates the highest (30%2) between 25-34 year olds.

Aviva recently launched the Get Fit Action Plan with former RTÉ Masterchef Ireland contestant and Dad, Pierce Maher, from Wexford who is determined to kick his smoking habit and start reaping the benefits of quitting with the help of the Allen Carr ‘Easyway to Stop Smoking’ Programme. “I am 100% committed to the Aviva Get Fit Action Plan so I have decided to give up smoking and so has my wife Marilee,” said Pierce Maher. “I have been a social smoker for seven years but didn’t realise I was an addict until I went to the Allen Carr seminar and they explained that I was addicted in the same way as Marilee who smokes 20 per day. We knew that if we both wanted to be fit and healthy for ourselves and our seven-year-old son we had to make a change, and know that having taken part in the Allen Carr ‘Easyway to Stop Smoking’ Programme we have taken a huge step in achieving this goal.”

Commenting on the research, GP on Aviva’s Medical Council, Dr Stephen Murphy said: “If you are a smoker, it is important to understand the impact that your habit is having on your health. Smoking not only increases your risk of cancer but it also affects your cardio-vascular system, making your blood clot more easily. In the long-term this can lead to a blocked artery in your heart or your brain that can cause a heart attack or stroke. New figures issued by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) are also showing that lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the main cause of cancer death in women by 6%3. The New Year is a great opportunity to make a change so I would encourage anyone thinking of quitting in 2012 to stick with it and your body will reap the benefits now and in years to come.”

He added: “I would urge people to complete Aviva’s new online health check called ‘Aviva Way to Health’ available at www.avivahealth.ie to make a first step for a healthier 2012.”

To be in with a chance to win a free Allen Carr ‘Easyway to Stop Smoking’ session, check -out Aviva’s facebook page www.facebook.com/avivaireland this week4. Aviva is the first and only health insurer to offer members a discount on the Allen Carr ‘Easyway to Stop Smoking’ programme to help Aviva members give up smoking so they can improve their health and quality of life. Aviva members are entitled to a €70 discount on the Allen Carr ‘Easyway to Stop Smoking’ programme, for more information please ring (01) 4999010.

For details on the next Allen Carr ‘Easyway to Stop Smoking’ seminar in your area please visit: www.allencarr.ie or lo-call 1890 37 99 29 or (01) 499 9010. To avail of this discount you must advise that you are an Aviva member when booking and present your Aviva membership card when attending and the discount will be applied. Aviva health members can access this fantastic benefit as soon as they join. Full cost of the session is €320 but Aviva health members only pay €250.