Fresh and Balance – the North East’s tobacco and alcohol harm prevention programmes – have teamed up to highlight some of the risks if people are not careful following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, as well as some key facts.
More regular binge drinking can harm health, make people feel more tired and depressed, weaken the immune system and lead to weight gain. For those who have quit smoking, drinking outdoors with your friends can risk breaking your resolve and put you in situations where you feel tempted to smoke. People who both smoke and drink have a higher risk of mouth and throat cancer. Both alcohol and tobacco are linked with a higher risk of cancer, heart attack and stroke, and can worsen stress and anxiety.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “Life returning to some sort of normal is something most of us welcome after a long winter. Spring can be a new start to get out and feel good again, but it can also bring pitfalls for health that you might end up regretting.
“If you’ve quit smoking, don’t kid yourself that you can have the odd cigarette as it can undo the brilliant achievement of quitting and get you hooked again. If necessary, try to avoid putting yourself into situations where you might be tempted to smoke.
“Vaping is much less harmful than smoking and could be one good way to switch from tobacco.”
Sue Taylor, acting head of alcohol policy for Balance, said: “People are looking forward to socialising, but drinking too much alcohol does not need to be part of it – at the end of the day alcohol is a toxin and a depressant that can harm health and cause hangovers, tiredness and low mood.
“It can sometimes feel we are surrounded by alcohol, from advertising on TV to our weekly shop in the supermarket.
“Whether or not you’ve felt your drinking creeping up during lockdown, now is a really important time to be looking after ourselves and our families, mentally and physically.”