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Article

Tobacco Use Changes and Perceived Health Risks among Current Tobacco Users during the COVID-19 Pandemic

1
Center for Research on Tobacco and Health, Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA
2
Center for Research on Tobacco and Health, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Penn State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1795; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041795
Received: 31 December 2020 / Revised: 26 January 2021 / Accepted: 9 February 2021 / Published: 12 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smoking, Vaping and COVID-19)
COVID-19 has become a global pandemic, with over 81 million cases worldwide. To assess changes in tobacco use as a result of the pandemic, we surveyed a convenience sample of current tobacco users between April and June 2020. The sample was taken from a tobacco user research registry (n = 3396) from the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA. Participants who responded to the survey and were eligible for this study (n = 291) were 25.6% male, 93% white, and had a mean age of 47.3 (SD = 11.6) years. There were no reports of participants testing positive for COVID-19, but 21.7% reported experiencing symptoms associated with the virus. Most participants (67%) believed that their risk of contracting COVID-19 was the same as non-tobacco users, but 57.7% believed that their risk of serious complications, if infected, was greater compared to non-tobacco users. A total of 28% reported increasing their cigarette use during the pandemic. The most common reasons for increased use were increased stress, more time at home, and boredom while quarantined. Nearly 15% reported decreasing their tobacco use. The most common reasons for reduced use were health concerns and more time around non-smokers (including children). A total of 71 (24.5%) users reported making a quit attempt. Characterizing these pandemic-related changes in tobacco use may be important to understanding the full scope of subsequent health outcomes resulting from the pandemic. Tobacco cessation resources should be tailored to allow for safe, appropriate access for those interested in quitting. View Full-Text
Keywords: tobacco use; cigarette smoking; e-cigarettes; COVID-19; pandemic; quit attempts; cessation; stress tobacco use; cigarette smoking; e-cigarettes; COVID-19; pandemic; quit attempts; cessation; stress
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MDPI and ACS Style

Yingst, J.M.; Krebs, N.M.; Bordner, C.R.; Hobkirk, A.L.; Allen, S.I.; Foulds, J. Tobacco Use Changes and Perceived Health Risks among Current Tobacco Users during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 1795. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041795

AMA Style

Yingst JM, Krebs NM, Bordner CR, Hobkirk AL, Allen SI, Foulds J. Tobacco Use Changes and Perceived Health Risks among Current Tobacco Users during the COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(4):1795. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041795

Chicago/Turabian Style

Yingst, Jessica M., Nicolle M. Krebs, Candace R. Bordner, Andrea L. Hobkirk, Sophia I. Allen, and Jonathan Foulds. 2021. "Tobacco Use Changes and Perceived Health Risks among Current Tobacco Users during the COVID-19 Pandemic" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 4: 1795. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041795

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