Dark clouds hang over UK smokers

April 20, 2012

Smokers in the UK are cutting down on the amount they light up when dark clouds loom above, according to new research by The Co-operative Pharmacy.

A survey of 2,000 smokers’ workplace habits including builders, office workers, school teachers and health workers* has found that almost half (47 per cent) wouldn’t be prepared to brave the elements for a cigarette. Younger smokers were more likely to forgo a cigarette during bad weather.

The Northern Irish and Prestonians were the hardiest smokers as they were the most likely to brave the elements while 53 per cent of Londoners would be put off.

Light smokers** are more likely than heavier smokers*** to indulge their habit at work with three in five (60 per cent) admitting they smoke more than on a non-work day.  Just over two in five heavier smokers (44 per cent) say they smoke more on the job.

The top reason for taking a cigarette break was stress (39 per cent), closely followed by wanting to have a rest from work (36 per cent).  Other motives included getting office gossip and one in six wanted to gain ‘brownie points’ by smoking with the boss.  One in 30 saw it an as opportunity to go for a cigarette with a good looking colleague.

One in 17 flirty 45 to 54 year olds were the most likely to go for a smoke with an attractive workmate while one in 23 young people (18-24 year olds) were keen to light up with a sexy smoker.

More than a third of those questioned (37 per cent) offered to do additional jobs outside their role so that they could go for an additional cigarette break.  For those who smoke two a day, this rose to three in five (61 per cent).

Smoking errands included nipping to the shop to buy milk, tea or coffee and going to the postal room. Those aged 18 to 24 were the most dishonest about the real reason they were going out of the office.

People who smoked between 16-20 cigarettes a day took an average of four work breaks each lasting six minutes. Overall more than half of respondents to the poll said they chain smoked or puffed away faster than they normally would during these intervals to cram in the cigarettes.

However one in three smokers admitted to feeling resentment from non-smokers at work who didn’t go out for a break during the working day.

Fiona Caplan-Dean, Clinical Services Manager at The Co-operative Pharmacy said: “The British weather and the smoking ban in public places inadvertently seem to be having an impact on people’s health. Perhaps next time it rains it might give people an incentive to start thinking about giving up smoking.

“Reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke can significantly decrease the risk of getting serious conditions such as lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease and by quitting altogether it can automatically make a huge difference to your health. No matter how old you are, it is never too late to stop.”

The Co-operative Pharmacy offers support, tips and pharmacy advice about the latest stop smoking aids.

Least likely to smoke in bad weather:

  • Wolverhampton
  • Edinburgh, Portsmouth, Southampton
  • London

Most likely to brave the weather:

  • Belfast
  • Preston
  • Brighton 

Additional Information:

*One Poll interviewed a random sample of 2,000 smokers online.  Surveys were conducted among adults across all ages and regions of the UK.

**those who smoke three cigarettes or less a day.

***those who smoke between 6-20 cigarettes a day.

Notes to editors

The Co-operative Pharmacy, part of the Co-operative Group, is the third largest pharmacy chain in the UK, with almost 800 pharmacy branches.  Visit www.co-operativepharmacy.co.uk

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over seven million consumers.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider, the third largest pharmacy chain and one of Britain’s largest farming operations. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies over 50 commitments in these areas.

The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 100,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn.  Further information is available at www.co-operative.coop


Contact Information:

Alex Wilson
Senior Public Relations Officer – Pharmacy
The Co-operative Group
Tel: 0161 2663416 / 07540 641368