Tobacco use during COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence for health policymakers
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Clinic of Social and Family Medicine, Department of Social Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
Department of Healthcare, Faculty of Health, University of Vlora 'Ismail Qemali', Vlorë, Albania
European Network For Smoking And Tobacco Prevention (ENSP), Brussels, Belgium
European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), Brussels, Belgium
'Mother Teresa' University Hospital, Tirana, Albania
Department of Nursing, School of Health Sciences, Hellenic Mediterranean University, Heraklion, Greece
Publication date: 2022-07-05
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2022;8(Supplement):A8
Tobacco use remains one of the key risk factors for increased morbidity and mortality of the population globally. Tobacco prevalence as well as policies implemented differ between countries. Tobacco users are more likely to have a worse outcome in case of infection with SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, tobacco users have higher chances of hospitalization, admission to intensive care units, and death, after COVID-19 infection compared to non-smokers.

This study aimed to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in tobacco use.

This is a scoping review study that was conducted during the period March 2020 – May 2022. Different databases such as Web of Science, Scopus and PubMed were used for the literature research. The keywords used to identify the literature were: tobacco consumption or prevalence, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, pandemic, tobacco cessation, as well as combinations of them. Only articles written in English were assessed, while articles that presented data before the onset of the pandemic were excluded.

Results of the studies on tobacco consumption during the pandemic varied. Some studies reported an increase in the tobacco consumption prevalence while others supported the contrary. Studies reported that the tobacco increase during the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with mental health problems (stress, depression etc.), quarantine, working from home, an increase of alcohol consumption, gender, age, and education level. On the other hand, several studies report high number of quit attempts during this period.

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic should guide new targeted interventions and the development of new tools for the provision of tobacco cessation services and strengthen tobacco control policies. The use of technology for this purpose is of paramount importance. Increased awareness and provision of brief advice by the healthcare personnel during on-site or online consultations should be included in standard care.