COVID-19 Drives India’s Young Adult Smokers to Quit, Says Study

Younger smokers of age 18-24 showed the desire to quit more than smokers of age 25-39.

Published12 May 2020, 04:34 AM IST
Coronavirus
2 min read

A recent survey done by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World has found out that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased smokers' desire to quit smoking.

The lockdown imposed due to coronavirus in many countries has made it difficult for people to buy cigarettes. Meanwhile, more studies are being published about the growing number of health risks related to COVID-19 for smokers, as reported by FIT earlier. Such studies have made smokers want to quit.

The poll involving 6,801 tobacco and nicotine users in 5 countries namely India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, and South Africa found that two-thirds of 1,500 smokers surveyed in India alone want to quit smoking. Some of them also believe that smoking can ramp up their chances of contracting the coronavirus.

Younger smokers of age 18-24 showed the desire to quit more than smokers of age 25-39.

The president of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, Dr. Derek Yach, said,

“Reports of increased stress and anxiety are consistent among the countries we polled, but the response in India - particularly among younger tobacco and nicotine users - stands out, with significant attempts to quit and adoption of healthier coping mechanisms.”

Adopting Healthier Coping Mechanism

Strict lockdown measures and social distancing have resulted in many adopting in a healthier coping mechanism. However, it is also true that mental health issues have been on the rise.

According to the study, 36% of Indians reported suffering an adverse effect on their mental health. This percentage was higher in the United States (42%) and United Kingdom (39%), and lower in Italy (24%) and South Africa (24%).

In India, the healthier coping mechanism is being adopted in larger cities - use of meditation in major metros by 50%, use of meditation in tier 2 cities by 40% and use of meditation in tier 3 cities by 37%.

The study also shows that tobacco and nicotine users in India are more likely than those in other countries to increase their use of healthy coping mechanisms during the COVID-19 crisis such as physical exercise (64%), breathing exercises (58%), meditation (58%) and yoga (55%).

The data shows that 48% of smokers believe that smoking increases the risk of either contracting COVID-19 or getting seriously ill from it. Thus, some are switching to smokeless tobacco.

The authors of the study believe that the pandemic presents an important teachable moment that has led some to focus on personal health.

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