Monday, June 17, 2024

Reports: Smoking Rates Increased Due to COVID-19


Smoking rates increased during the global COVID-19 pandemic, notes several reports and statistical data released by the United States government.

Fast Company reported that the COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in smoking, based on numbers showing fewer smokers having connected to smoking quitline services.

According to data from the National American Quitline Consortium, the calendar year of 2020 saw 1-800-QUIT-NOW services decreased by 27 percent. That’s over 190,000 calls.

“The decrease in calls mirrored the timeline of the pandemic, with a 6% decrease in the first quarter of 2020 (January – March), followed by decreases of 39%, 30%, and 21% for quarters two, three, and four,” said Linda Bailey, an attorney, and the president and chief executive officer of the consortium, in a press statement.

“Research suggests that the stress and anxiety resulting from the pandemic may be factors in the increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances. NAQC suggests that these factors may have contributed to the decrease in calls to quitlines.”

This drop reports 520,000 in 2020 compared to the previous year. This was the lowest point since 2007 and mirrors the rise of the pandemic. 6 percent in the first quarter, 39 percent in the second, 30 percent in the third, and 21 percent in the fourth.

“Quitting has never been more important,” says Anne DiGiulio, the national lung policy director for the American Lung Association, via the report from Fast Company. “COVID and [the response to it] created new barriers.”

“Messaging on the importance of smoking cessation during the pandemic and the availability of effective cessation services needs to be amplified,” adds Bailey. “The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our progress on smoking cessation in 2020, but this does not need to be the case in 2021.

“Changes in smoking cessation and cigarette sales during the pandemic have implications for smokers, public health, and the health care system,” the actual report notes.

“Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 480,000 deaths annually.”

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