SHORT REPORT
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected tobacco users in India: Lessons from an ongoing tobacco cessation program
 
More details
Hide details
1
Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, Mumbai, India
2
Salaam Bombay Foundation, Mumbai, India
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Gauri Mandal   

Salaam Bombay Foundation, Nirmal Building, Nariman Point, Mumbai, 400025, India
Submission date: 2020-06-25
Final revision date: 2020-08-07
Acceptance date: 2020-09-01
Publication date: 2020-09-14
 
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(September):53
 
KEYWORDS
TOPICS
ABSTRACT
Introduction:
Tobacco use is detrimental at any time. However, it is proving to be more dangerous during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tobacco use may increase the risk of being infected, increases the chances of complications, and also increases the probability of its spread. We assessed the awareness about this association and the impact of the lockdown on tobacco use among tobacco users registered before the lockdown for LifeFirst, a tobacco dependence treatment program.

Methods:
1016 tobacco users were under active follow-up in their course of the 6-month counselling program. From 14 to 28 May 2020, 650 (64%) of these registered users were contacted by counsellors for follow-up sessions over the telephone. Semi-structured questionnaires were filled in during the calls.

Results:
Two-thirds (67%) of tobacco users were unaware of the association between tobacco and COVID-19. Only 30% of the users felt that the current situation had affected their tobacco use, the commonest impacts being unavailability and increased prices of tobacco products. While this was seen as an opportunity to quit by some users, some reported increased tobacco use due to increased stress. Of the 219 (34%) tobacco users who quit tobacco during the lockdown, 51% quit because of the lockdown and their concern over COVID-19. Abstinence among those who were aware of the association between the coronavirus and tobacco was twice that among those who were not aware.

Conclusions:
Awareness activities about the harmful effects of tobacco during the coronavirus pandemic have to be strengthened. Measures to motivate and support tobacco users to quit have to be provided through cessation services.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the study participants and the efforts of the LifeFirst intervention team: Sadashiv Hattarki, Asha Kamble Shridhar Mulam, Nitesh Agre, Mayuresh Jagtap, Neha Korlekar, Harshali Gaikwad and Grishma Shah.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
The authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none was reported.
FUNDING
There was no source of funding for this research.
PROVENANCE AND PEER REVIEW
Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
 
REFERENCES (14)
1.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/b.... Accessed August 7, 2020.
 
2.
Zhou Z, Chen P, Peng H. Are healthy smokers really healthy? Tob Induc Dis. 2016;14(November):1-12. doi:10.1186/s12971-016-0101-z
 
3.
Vardavas CI, Nikitara K. COVID-19 and smoking: A systematic review of the evidence. Tob Induc Dis. 2020;18(March):1-4. doi:10.18332/tid/119324
 
4.
Patanavanich R, Glantz SA. Smoking Is Associated With COVID-19 Progression: A Meta-analysis. Nicotine Tob Res. 2020;22(9):1653-1656. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntaa082
 
5.
World Health Organization. WHO statement: Tobacco use and COVID-19. https://www.who.int/news-room/.... Published May 11, 2020. Accessed June 13, 2020.
 
6.
Berlin I, Thomas D, Le Faou AL, Cornuz J. COVID-19 and smoking. Nicotine Tob Res. 2020;22(9):1650-1652. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntaa059
 
7.
Gretler C. Smoking Helps Open Gateway to Coronavirus Infection. https://www.bloombergquint.com.... Published April 9, 2020. Updated April 10, 2020. Accessed June 13, 2020.
 
8.
Zhao Q, Meng M, Kumar R, et al. The impact of COPD and smoking history on the severity of Covid-19: A systemic review and meta-analysis. J Med Virol. 2020. doi:10.1002/jmv.25889
 
9.
Guan WJ, Liang WH, Zhao Y, et al. Comorbidity and its impact on 1590 patients with Covid-19 in China: A Nationwide Analysis. Eur Respir J. 2020;55(5):2000547. doi:10.1183/13993003.00547-2020
 
10.
World Health Organization. Q&A: Tobacco and COVID-19. https://www.who.int/emergencie.... Published May 27, 2020. Accessed June 13, 2020.
 
11.
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Tips for Smokers and Tobacco Users. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/i.... Accessed June 13, 2020.
 
12.
Singh A, Chaturvedi P. Smokeless tobacco use and the COVID-19 pandemic. Blog | BMJ Journals. https://blogs.bmj.com/covid-19.... Published April 8, 2020. Accessed June 13, 2020.
 
13.
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Global Adult Tobacco Survey GATS 2 India 2016-17. New Delhi, India: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, World Health Organization, Tata Institute of Social Sciences; 2018. http://download.tiss.edu/Globa.... Accessed August 7, 2020.
 
14.
World Health Organization. Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI): Other economic issues in tobacco control. https://www.who.int/tobacco/ec.... Accessed July 30, 2020.
 
eISSN:2459-3087