We all know smoking is bad for our health, but a new study has found half of smokers delay quitting because they worry they’ll gain weight as a result.
The survey of 2,000 current and former smokers found that on average, fear of weight gain sets quitting back by seven and a half years.
The researchers estimated that in this time, 41,000 cigarettes will be smoked at a cost of around £20,000, taking nearly a year off life expectancy per person.
The survey, conducted by Slimming World, found that smokers’ main worries about quitting were comfort eating, boredom and simply replacing holding a cigarette with food.
A study in the British Medical Journal estimated one cigarette costs 11 minutes of life, meaning the delay period of seven years would cut 314 days off the average smoker’s life.
Dr Jacquie Lavin, head of nutrition at Slimming World, said the results were “horrifying”.
“It’s horrifying to learn so many people are carrying on smoking for many years simply because they assume they will gain weight if they give up,” she said, according to the Press Association.
“It’s true that, without support, giving up smoking and managing your weight at the same time can be challenging.
“Your appetite and sense of taste comes back and you can be so used to having something in your hand you are tempted to reach for food instead of a cigarette.
“Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the UK, followed by diet related disease and obesity.”
The survey also found the average person smoked 15 cigarettes per day, with the average cost of 20 cigarettes being £9.40.