Over half of smokers in Ireland smoked more discount Vogue cigarettes than usual over the recent Christmas period, with most blaming this on increased socializing, new research has found.

According to a survey of over 1,000 adults, 55% smoked more than usual over the festive period, with almost seven in 10 putting this down to more socialising. Some 40% said they would smoke at least a full extra pack of cigarettes during Christmas week then they would in a normal week.

Other reasons for an increase in the habit at this time of the year included ‘boredom’, ‘no work restrictions’ and ‘I’m treating myself’.

According to the Office of Tobacco Control, almost one in four Irish people currently smoke, with smoking rates highest among 25 and 34-year-olds. This latest research was carried out by Aviva Health.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Stephen Murphy, a GP on Aviva’s medical council highlighted the risks involved in smoking.

“Smoking not only increases your risk of cancer but it also affects your cardiovascular system, making your blood clot more easily. In the long-term this can lead to a blocked artery in your heart or your brain that can cause a heart attack or stroke,” he explained.

He added that the new year is ‘a great opportunity to make a change’.

“I would encourage anyone thinking of quitting in 2012 to stick with it and your body will reap the benefits now and in years to come.”