Smokers’ friendships go up in smoke

March 12, 2013

The secret to quitting smoking is to stub out friendships as well as cigarettes if people are to succeed in giving up, according to new research.

A study by The Co-operative Pharmacy* has revealed that almost one in five smokers (19 per cent), avoids their friends who tempt them to smoke as well as socialising in pubs to help them break the habit.

More than two out of five smokers say that when they make the tough decision to try and stop smoking they receive no support or help from friends or family (41 per cent).

And one in four smokers (25 per cent) said that they end up smoking again because friends tempt them to light up. Smokers also blamed their peers for getting them to take up smoking in the first place and two out of three (67 per cent) admitted to starting the habit at school with a further one in four saying they started at university.

Geordies were the most likely to be influenced by their peers to start the habit while one in ten Scots (10 per cent) had a love interest they wanted to impress by smoking.

Scots were also the most likely to be tempted by friends to start smoking again while trying to give up. One in five Scots tried to avoid the pub and their friends to ensure they succeeded in quitting.

The research also highlighted that the cost of smoking is the main reason people decide to quit.  However, one in three (32 per cent) wanted to give up for health reasons.

Social smokers said the smoking ban and being unable to smoke in pubs was a key factor in stubbing out for good.

Fiona Caplan-Dean, Clinical Services Manager at The Co-operative Pharmacy, said: “Making the decision to stop smoking is not an easy step to take so having someone there for support can mean the difference between people staying motivated or failing at their first attempt. 

“Unfortunately, for some, the only way that they feel they can maintain their willpower and reduce the temptation to smoke is to avoid social situations, and some friends.  There are a range of professionals in the community, including pharmacists, GPs and stop smoking advisers who are ready to support those who want to give up and help individuals find a way that works best for them.”

Top five regions / countries whose friends and family gave the least support to smokers trying to give up:

1. West Midlands
2. Northern Ireland
3. Wales
4. East Anglia
5. South East

For more information or help with stopping smoking visit:

The Co-operative Pharmacy is supporting the Department of Health’s Quit Kit campaign.  NHS Quit Kits are available in pharmacies across England, which smokers can pick up for free. Quit Kits have already helped thousands of smokers across England quit.

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. A total of 1565 smokers had tried to quit before. 

The Co-operative Pharmacy has almost 800 pharmacies across the UK and is part of the Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over seven million consumers.  The Co-operative Group 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

Contact Information: 

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

Craig Noonan
PR Business Lead – Specialist Businesses
The Co-operative Group
Tel: 07702 505439