Fear of Covid-19 convinced around 630,000 people in Italy to quit smoking during the lockdown, according to a study by the Higher Health Institute (ISS), conducted in collaboration with the Mario Negri Institute, San Raffaele University, ISPRO and DOXA.

Increased consumption

But, amid the stress and the anxiety, those who have not managed to quit have upped the dosage. Indeed, 3.9 million people have increased or started nicotine consumption, including electronic cigarettes, according to the study presented for World No Tobacco Day.

Occasional consumers

The study said that one in five occasional heated-tobacco-product consumers has become a regular consumer, especially among the young. The study carried out in April 2020 via the compilation of an anonymous online questionnaire showed that, during the lockdown, the proportion of smokers dropped from 23.3% to 21.9% of the population. That means 630,000 fewer smokers, 334,000 men and 295,000 women.

Age groups

People aged between 35 and 54 were those who quit most (270,000), followed by those aged between 18 and 34 (206,000), while only 150,000 men and women aged between 55 and 74 managed this achievement.

Motivated smokers

"The figures tell us that a motivated smoker manages to quit and situations of special health emergency can become a great health opportunity," said Roberta Pacifici, the director of the ISS's National Addition and Doping Centre.

Unfortunately, however, 9% of the population, or 3.9 million people, started to consume tobacco or increased their consumption during the lockdown: 8.5% increased the number of cigarettes they smoke a day; the average number of cigarettes consumed went up from 10.9 to 12.7 and, those who increased consumption were primarily women.

The occasional or regular users of electronic cigarettes before the lockdown amounted to 8.1% of the population and during the restrictions this went up to 9.1%, an increase of around 436,000 people. Before the lockdown, 4.1% of the Italian population, some 1.787 million people, used heated tobacco products and during the lockdown this went up to 4,4%, an increase of around 130,800 users, above all among the young and adults with a high level of education.

Toll-free number

During the lockdown, the personnel of the ISS's Numero Verde Antifumo - 800 554088 - toll-free anti-smoking phone number handled an average of 31 calls a day, compared to 52 before the lockdown, but the average length of each call doubled, going from around eight minutes to around 15 minutes.  Furthermore, programmes to help people quit and provide psychological support have increased exponentially.

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Source: Ansa 

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Data di pubblicazione: 31 maggio 2020, ultimo aggiornamento 31 maggio 2020