Four times as many Australians have shown an interest in quitting smoking compared to this time last year.
Health minister Greg Hunt released a statement saying the government’s My Quitbuddy app had over 24,000 downloads from January to May this year.
Chancellor’s research fellow at the University of Technology Sydney David Chapman says the number could be a by-product of COVID-19.
“A lot of people have lost jobs and are looking for a way to cut back on money,” he says.
“Without the ability to go to the pubs in big groups, the reinforcement to smoke isn’t there.
“It’s given people a chance to make those quit attempts that they’ve pushed off or haven’t been able to do.”
Cancer prevention and research director at the Cancer Council Melissa Ledger says knowing more people are seeking support is positive.
“People are thinking about their health especially in this time of COVID-19,” she says.
“It’s such a positive step smokers can take.”
Ms Ledger says while the app is good, it’s also important for smokers to know what might spark their usage.
Dr Chapman says integrating a doctor referral system into the app could benefit many people by creating notes when describing symptoms.
Pharmacology professor at James Cook University Zoltán Sarnyai says smoking creates pleasure similar to that of cocaine.
“Lots of people who smoke do understand that there are health consequences,” he says.
“Despite that, they are not able to quit.
“It activates the pleasure pathways, and it stimulates the production of dopamine which has been shown to be involved in the development of addiction.”
If you need help to quit smoking, you can download the My QuitBuddy app or contact the Quitline on 13 78 48.