Smokers light more cigarettes after COVID-19 lockdown order in California, study finds
Researchers at the Center for Nicotine and Cannabis Policy found that adult smokers reported smoking more cigarettes after California’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order was put in place.
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May 28, 2021 – By Juan Flores, UC Merced – The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has been felt around the world. The grip of COVID-19 has affected people’s mental health and the feeling of what was once normal, prompting them to turn to new and familiar behaviors to help them cope.
According to a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, smokers reported smoking more cigarettes following California’s COVID-19 lockdown order. UC Merced’s Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center CNPC researchers looked at the habits of adult smokers in an 11-county region of central California before and after the implementation of the COVID-19 lockdown order in California.A total of 1,510 adults were surveyed in early March 2020 and 1,061 in May 2020.
According to the report, as a group, adults who responded to the survey after the state-imposed stay-at-home order took effect had higher rates of cigarette smoking than users. of cigarettes questioned before the lockdown went into effect. They also found the opposite for e-cigarettes: adults who responded to the post-lockdown survey had lower rates of e-cigarette consumption than adults who responded to the pre-order survey. House.
Although the study did not ask smokers why their smoking habits changed, researchers believe that increased stress, other mental health issues, and working from home were possible causes for the increase. of cigarette consumption. Project researchers pointed out that when smokers stayed at home during the lockdown, they were no longer covered by California’s smoke-free workplace laws, which prohibit smoking and vaping indoors. This is important because anti-smoking laws, such as those banning smoking in the workplace, can be an important tool that not only protects people from toxic second-hand smoke, but can also encourage smokers to cut back on cigarettes. whether they smoke or quit smoking. absolutely.
As the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to decline and state mandates are lifted, public health and health professionals fear that stress and isolation during the pandemic could lead to or worsen behaviors addictive in countless communities, including central California.
“It is important to strengthen mental health and smoking cessation resources in communities like the San Joaquin Valley, where there is already a pre-existing shortage of health and mental health professionals,” said the main author. Professor Mariaelena Gonzalez, whose research focuses on health disparities and tobacco control. “Without these resources, these areas could become marginalized due to increased stress, mental health issues and substance use disorders related to COVID-19.”
The pandemic has uprooted lives and increased stress and anxiety, but help is available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a list of mental health resources on their website to help anyone who is going through a difficult time. the National lifeline for suicide prevention is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can be reached at 800-273-8255. Smokers who want help quitting smoking can contact the Hotline for California smokers at 800-662-8887.
Visit the CNPCto learn more about the study and other research, and visit the Health Sciences Research Institute website to learn more about all the public health research at UC Merced.
Source: UC Merced