Smoking and natural disasters: Christchurch residents increase tobacco consumption post-earthquake

September 4, 2012, European Lung Foundation

The prevalence of smoking in Christchurch, New Zealand, increased following the 2010 earthquake, according to a new study.

The results of the study will be presented today (4 September 2012) at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in Vienna.

The 7.1- Christchurch earthquake, and subsequent , have caused a huge amount of damage and dramatically changed the social, working and living conditions for residents in the city.

To investigate the effects of the disaster on smoking levels, researchers from the Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand, carried out interviews with 1,001 residents 15 months after the first earthquake. Participants were asked about their smoking habits before and after the earthquake.

The results showed that prior to the earthquake in August 2010, 319 people were not smoking at this time. Of this group, 76 people had smoked at least once after the earthquake, with 29 people from this group having more than 100 cigarettes since September 2010.

Of the 273 people who were smoking in August 2010, 93 had increased their consumption of tobacco. 53 people in this group attributed this increase to the earthquake and the subsequent changes in lifestyle.

Professor Lutz Beckert, from the Canterbury District Health Board, said: "Increased levels of smoking were found in Christchurch residents after the earthquake. 28% of people who were not smoking prior to the earthquake picked up the habit following the quakes. This suggests that exposure to trauma, such as a natural disaster, can prompt people to start smoking as they believe it is a valid way to deal with their anxiety over their experiences and coping for changes in lifestyle.

"It is important for to be aware of this increased risk in the aftermath of a disaster, such as the Christchurch , so that they can be ready to provide the necessary support to residents before they turn to cigarettes."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Why teens need up to 10 hours' sleep

February 21, 2018
Technology, other distractions and staying up late make is difficult, but researchers say teenagers need to make time for 8-10 hours of sleep a night to optimise their performance and maintain good health and wellbeing.

Electronic health records don't reduce administrative costs

February 21, 2018
The federal government thought that adopting certified electronic health record systems (EHR) would reduce administrative costs for physicians in a variety of specialties. However, a major new study conducted by researchers ...

Low-fat or low-carb? It's a draw, study finds

February 20, 2018
New evidence from a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine might dismay those who have chosen sides in the low-fat versus low-carb diet debate.

Tobacco kills, no matter how it's smoked: study

February 20, 2018
(HealthDay)—Smokers who think cigars or pipes are somehow safer than cigarettes may want to think again, new research indicates.

Just a few minutes of light intensity exercise linked to lower death risk in older men

February 19, 2018
Clocking up just a few minutes at a time of any level of physical activity, including of light intensity, is linked to a lower risk of death in older men, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Sports ...

Women who clean at home or work face increased lung function decline

February 16, 2018
Women who work as cleaners or regularly use cleaning sprays or other cleaning products at home appear to experience a greater decline in lung function over time than women who do not clean, according to new research published ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.