The COVID-19 pandemic and tobacco use among young population: A scoping review
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Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Vlora, Vlora, Albania
Department of Healthcare, Faculty of Health, University of Vlora, Vlora, Albania
Publication date: 2021-12-13
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2021;7(Supplement):70
The COVID-19 pandemic started in Wuhan in China and obligated countries worldwide to establish restricted measures and lockdowns. Universities started to operate on-line and exit from home was done only in a limited period time during the day. These measures impacted mental health of young population and an increase was observed in depression, anxiety and stress prevalence. Usually, young students to overcome these stressing conditions increased use of alcohol, tobacco and other substances. This study aimed to assess the tobacco use among young population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A scoping review was conducted for the period April 2020 till September 2021. PubMed database was searched by using as keyword COVID-19, tobacco use, restricted measures, young population, students and combination of them. Articles that had at least abstract in English were included in the analysis. Letter to the editors, articles written in other languages rather than English, systematic reviews and qualitative studies were excluded.

In total 7 studies were included in analysis after the scoping review. Most of the studies were conducted in Europe (5 in total with 2 conducted France and 1 in Germany, 1 in Spain and 1 in Sweden) while the rest took place in USA (1) and Brazil (1). Most of the studies were cross sectional while cohort and retrospective studies were also included in the analysis. Only one study was focused on e-cigarettes use. Tobacco use differs in the study. Five studies reported a reduction, in one study prevalence increased while in one prevalence remained stable. E-cigarette prevalence decreased from 17.3% to 11.3% (p-value <0.001). Tobacco consumption decreased in France (18.5% vs. 14.8%) and Sweden (18.9% vs. 14.7) while a drop was reported on around 67.5% of students in Brazil.

The result of the current study reports that COVID-19 period had a significant impact on young population lifestyle. A decrease of tobacco use (e-cigarette use was also decreased) was observed in most of the studies. These results mainly differs from studies conducted in general population that reports an increase of tobacco consumption. It’s of paramount significance that health authorities to exploit this chance to help young population to keep this health behavior change.