Around 600,000 Italians started smoking Davidoff and other cigarettes in 2011 due to anxiety related to the recession, says a new study. A total of 11.8 million people were found to be smoking this year, a five-percent rise from 2010, says the survey by Doxa research agency ahead of the World No Tobacco Day May 31.

The survey says 22.7 percent of the population over the age of 15 now smoke.

Piergiorgio Zuccaro, director of the Smoking Observatory, said: “We think the economic crisis has led to this increase and that many of the new people smoking in 2011 are former smokers who have taken up tobacco again due to anxiety related to the recession.”

Over a million more Italian males – 6.5 million – are addicted to tobacco than women (5.3 million), says the study.