Nearly 40 percent of smokers have increased their use of tobacco and nicotine products since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a poll conducted by nonprofit organization Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.
The online poll surveyed tobacco and nicotine users in India, Italy, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States between the ages of 18 and 69 who are regular smokers of combustible tobacco or users of nicotine vape products.
Social distancing guidelines and concerns about falling ill have made many anxious. More than two-thirds of the respondents said they rely on tobacco and nicotine products to manage their stress and anxiety. The rate was highest in the United States where 43 percent said social distancing had negatively affected their mental health.
“When this pandemic curve subsides, there will be a heavy mental and physical toll on all people,” Dr. Derek Yach, the foundation’s president, said. “Prior to the COVID crisis, smokers were at greatest risk of lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and heart attacks. They will continue to have these excess risks as the pandemic recedes. Never forget that 7 million people will die globally this year as a result of their tobacco use.”