The first lockdown during the Covid pandemic saw a 25 per cent increase in the number of 18 to 34-year-old smokers in England.
A study carried out by researchers from University College London and the University of Sheffield found the rise in smokers meant about 652,000 more young adults had taken up the habit than before the pandemic.
The first lockdown also saw over 4.5 million more adults drinking dangerously high amounts of alcohol, with 55 per cent more women and 64 per cent more people from lower socioeconomic groups drinking more.
The charity Action on Smoking and Health warned “health inequalities linked to alcohol could worsen” because heavy drinkers who tried to reduce their intake were from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.
ASH also warned the rising number of young adults taking up smoking “cannot be ignored” despite the government's impending publication of its tobacco control plan and pledge to make England smoke-free by 2030.
“As it stands, meeting this would require smokers to quit at a rate of around 40 per cent faster than predicted,” the charity said.
The study, which was published last month in the journal Addiction and funded by Cancer UK, said the pandemic had disproportionately impacted people from lower income families, younger adults and women.