The study of 2,000 smokers found 43 per cent of those who keep it under wraps have used walking the dog as an excuse to have a cigarette, while 54 per cent would say they’re just nipping to the shops.

Another 40 per cent offer to take the bins out for a secret ciggy, and two thirds have blamed a friend for smelling of smoke.

A huge 91 per cent revealed they kept their habit concealed because they did not want to upset their other half – while 46 per cent felt guilty.

A spokesperson for LloydsPharmacy, which commissioned the research, said: “With the stigma surrounding smoking on the rise, it’s no wonder so many smokers look to conceal their habit from loved ones.

“Quitting smoking can be tough and many have tried but found themselves smoking again, soon after quitting.”

The study also found that top tactics used by secret smokers to cover up the smell include changing into different clothes (37 per cent), having a shower (32 per cent) and keeping the windows wide open in their car or house (45 per cent).

And 44 per cent often buy deodorant to mask the scent.

But despite this, nearly half have previously been caught out by someone they were trying to hide it from.

It also emerged more and four in 10 hide their habit from loved ones out of shame and 51 per cent feel they would be judged if anyone was to find out.

Over a quarter of all smokers would happily lie to someone they didn’t know very well about being a smoker while a surprising 36 per cent admit to falsely filling out professional forms.

More than seven in 10 have attempted to quit smoking before but 83 per cent found it too difficult – as the average smoker lasted just under four months before

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