More Danes quit smoking during the pandemic

Danish smokers bought less tobacco during the COVID pandemic and more of them quit smoking than usual, according to a new study from the University of Copenhagen, ScienceDaily reports.
During the COVID pandemic, more smokers than usual decided to quit. Those who kept smoking also bought significantly less tobacco, according to a new study from the University of Copenhagen that monitored cigarette purchases from the March 2020 lockdown to the end of the year. Among other things, the figures show that regular smokers bought 20 per cent fewer cigarettes each week than before the pandemic. And the number of those who quit smoking increased by 10 per cent over the previous year, the report said.
“The big picture is that cigarette consumption fell during the pandemic. It comes as somewhat of a surprise, as one would expect to see people smoking more during a pandemic, a time when people felt worse psychologically and had fewer opportunities to move about. Yet, the opposite occurred,” said Associate Professor Toke Reinholt Fosgaard of the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Food and Resource Economics, the study’s first author.
The most obvious reason for the decline in tobacco use, according to the researcher, is that smokers are at greater risk of developing severe COVID symptoms, being hospitalized and, in the worst case, dying from the virus.
While tobacco purchases among all smokers declined by 12 per cent, one group among them purchased slightly more during the lockdown – the occasional smokers. “Social smokers, which we define as those who smoke less than one cigarette per day on average, bought more tobacco than usual, which could be due to a shift from smoking at social events to smoking more frequently at home,” Fosgaard said.
The researchers had access to anonymized purchase data from 4,042 users representing the Danish population in terms of age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and education level. The findings have just been published in Nature Communications.

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