Tobacco consumption expected to shrink as a result of lockdowns

The more we learn about tobacco consumption, the more we feel obligated to share with the world how it greatly affects the health and well-being of smokers everywhere. With the pandemic still ongoing, with lockdowns popping up to prevent the spread of variants, tobacco consumption per smoker has increased dramatically in most countries. However, as strict measures are lifted and people can gain back some normalcy, many are finding success in quitting for good. Continue reading to find out more with studies from the USA, Belgium, and China. 

The studies

To show the magnitude of tobacco consumption during versus post-lockdown, we’ve examined three scholarly studies:


Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania surveyed a sample of 291 adult smokers who were using tobacco between April and June 2020. Of the participant group, 25.6% were male, 93% were caucasian, and the medium age was 47-years-old. While 6.9% of the group reported starting smoking during the lockdown, a mere 9.6% of long-term smokers were able to quit while stuck at home; with 28% reporting increased their combustible cigarette intake. The most common reasons for the increase were stress, more time spent at home, and boredom while quarantined.  


A Belgian self-reported, web-based survey was offered to ask for the subjects to record their tobacco use during the COVID-19 lockdown measures. A total of 3,632 respondents (mean age 42; 70% female) filled out the survey. Half of the participants reported smoking more than usual during the lockdowns, while a quarter reported smoking less. Boredom, lack of social contacts, loss of daily structure, and loneliness were the main reasons for consuming more. However, 6.5% managed to quit smoking altogether. 


The country of China was hit hard with COVID-19 lockdowns early on to help stop the spread of the virus, with some of the harshest quarantine measures. That said, while both the United States and Belgium experienced higher smoking rates during quarantine and decreased rates when lockdowns were lifted, more people quit smoking during China’s lockdown measures with health risks being a primary driving factor towards making a change. A sample size of 11,500 participants was analyzed; 4,841 smokers and 6,659 nonsmokers. Age, gender, marital status, education, income, province, and smoking history were other factors that were examined. Of the smoking sample, 4.5% of smokers managed to quit completely during the lockdown, with 2.5% having started because of being stuck at home. 

While there was no direct mention of the use of a nicotine replacement therapy in the above studies, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t used to help subjects quit during or after COVID-19 lockdown measures were lifted. Since quitting cold turkey is challenging due to nicotine withdrawal, we can easily assume that some of the subjects used a nicotine replacement therapy (e-cigs, nicotine patch, gum, etc.) to combat their dependencies. 

Were you someone who successfully quit because of the COVID-19 lockdowns? If so, we want to hear from you in the comments section below. 

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