Portuguese smoke a packet of cigarettes a day.jpg

Portuguese smoke a packet of cigarettes a day

THE MAJORITY of smokers light up their first cigarette within five minutes of waking up and, during the day, they will smoke between 11 and 20 cigarettes, according to a new study by the Portuguese Institute of Cardiology.

The report states that the majority who give up, or try to give up smoking, stop spontaneously (77 per cent), while the rest take recourse to nicotine patches, gum and pills. Acupuncture (13 per cent) is a new method also gaining currency.

According to the institute’s ‘Quit Smoking’ hotline, the period when people need most help in tackling their addiction seems to be between 3pm and 4pm, when 4,352 calls were logged in the three years it has been operational. “This is most likely with the desire to smoke immediately after lunch,” believes cardiologist Fernando Padua.

The institute has also noticed an increase in calls to its hotline following the price hikes on tobacco, with 64 per cent of people saying they wanted to give up smoking to save money and improve their health.

Generally speaking, the Portuguese start smoking between the ages of 16 and 20 (51 per cent), whereas those over 30 are extremely unlikely to take up the habit, representing only two per cent.

According to the study, fear of withdrawal symptoms – panic attacks, breathlessness, anxiety and an inability to concentrate – are all reasons why smokers fail to quit the estimated 80-euro per month habit.

“Giving up smoking is difficult, but it’s not impossible. It is a question of being brave enough to cope with the anxiety and irritation during the first couple of weeks,” concludes the specialist.