New Journal Article Observes Effect of COVID-19 on Tobacco Use

February 25th, 2022 | News


A recent article published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research sought to understand the various influences of COVID-19 on tobacco use.

COVID-19 brought a number of global societal changes, such as business shutdowns and nation-wide lockdowns, the introduction of remote working and expansion of distance learning, and an increased fear of the disease itself. These disruptions changed health behavior. The authors of this study, including JSI’s Manu Singh-Looney, Ph.D., examined these changes in three different tobacco-user groups; current exclusive smokers who were not trying to quit; current electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) users who were not trying to quit; and transitioning tobacco users who had quit at the beginning of the pandemic or were in the process of quitting.

Through 10 online focus groups, researchers from Georgia State University’s Department of Public Health and JSI observed that while there were some similarities among the groups, there were also pronounced differences. ENDS users reported vaping less, citing concerns about the health effects of smoking during the pandemic, while exclusive smokers reported smoking more, frequently driven by COVID-19-related stress, increased time at home, and boredom. Transitioning smokers worried about their health and wanted to quit, but many relied on tobacco use to cope with their increased stress.

People who are most affected by COVID-19 may experience the greatest pressure to smoke to cope with pandemic-related stress. This can be counteracted through targeted educational campaigns on the harmful effects of smoking, alternative stress-relief strategies, and regulatory changes to make tobacco products less appealing.

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