Population-level stressful events such as 9/11 and natural disasters have often led to an increase in smoking, but that is not what has happened with the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, these findings, made in a new study , that there was no net increase in smoking in response to COVID-19 may actually represent a positive public health outcome .
Only 1.1 percent of smokers in the four countries tried to quit and 14.2 percent reduced smoking, but this was offset by 14.6 percent who increased smoking, and 70.2 percent reported no change.
Unlike other stressful events at the population level, such as natural disasters, COVID-19 has not resulted in a net increase in smoking, according to a new study from the International Tobacco Control Project (ITC), at the University of Waterloo . The researchers also found that while nearly half of smokers reported that COVID-19 made them think about quitting, the vast majority of smokers did not change their smoking habits during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic .
The study surveyed 6,870 smokers and vapers in four high-income countries (Australia, Canada, England and the United States) during the first global wave of COVID-19 between April and June 2020. The team examined the association between COVID- 19 and thoughts on quitting smoking, changes in smoking, and factors related to positive changes such as trying to quit smoking or reducing smoking.
The study found that those who thought about quitting because of COVID-19 were predominantly women, ethnic minorities, those with financial stress, current vapers, less dependent smokers, those with greater concerns about personal susceptibility to infection, and those who believe that COVID-19 is more serious for smokers .