Do female tobacco smokers fear COVID-19 more than male smokers?
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Maria Sklodowska-Curie National Research Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland
Publication date: 2022-07-05
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2022;8(Supplement):A4
Widely published observations confirm that tobacco smokers can be at higher risk of severe course of coronavirus disease. Polish National Quitline notes increased interest since the beginning of the pandemic, which pushed the epidemiologists from the National Research Institute of Oncology to search for the reasons for this state.

Our objective was to analyze whether and how the COVID epidemic affects smokers’ behaviors, especially in terms of gender differences.

A carefully designed survey was performed on the Polish National Quitline clients since March 2020 (the time when first COVID-19 related measures were nationally introduced). Answers from 3165 questionnaires from April to December 2020 were analyzed using MsExcel 2010.

In most cases, the COVID-19 pandemic just accelerated the decision of quitting, for many however the real feeling of danger pushed them to attempt to quit smoking. Men more often than women declared that the pandemic impacted their decision of quitting reckoned on the fact that the current circumstances made them realize how big a health threat smoking really is (67% vs 58%, p<0.001). However, it was females who more often than males feared getting infected (25% vs 15%, p<0.001) and having a serious course of disease (17% vs 14%, p=0.035) and therefore wished to quit smoking. Both men and women declared to do their best to maintain abstinence after the pandemic is over (>90%). Women much more often than men declared to make another attempt to quit smoking after the end of pandemic, should this one fail (57% vs 31%, p<0.001).

The results of the study show that the pandemic might have a surprising positive effect on smoking and quitting behavior. It also sends an important message to the smoking cessation clinics and healthcare providers to get prepared in order to respond adequately to the increasing number of people searching for help to quit smoking.

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