Australians smoke and vape more in early stages of Covid-19, researchers say

Public pandemic measures such as lockdowns have made it harder for Australians to want to quit smoking, and may even have made people turn to smoking as a way to reduce stress in the early stages of COVID-19. .

That’s the guess of a group of researchers from the Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences (QAEHS) at the University of Queensland.

new study Published March 9, researchers found that nicotine consumption increased significantly (30%) in the first half of 2020 compared to the second half of 2019.

“This increase coincides with the first wave of COVID-19 cases in Australia, which saw the implementation of public health policies such as lockdowns, social distancing and working from home.” Said Lead author Phong Thai, associate professor at QAEHS, said:

“These changes may have increased nicotine consumption as people are coping with higher stress levels, as well as increased opportunities to smoke or use e-cigarettes while working from home. I have.”

In their study, the authors found that social and economic changes such as movement restrictions and unemployment increased mental health problems, which hindered motivation to quit and self-efficacy, and among people who recently quit smoking. They argued that it may have increased the recurrence of stop.

This study analyzed data from the National Wastewater Drug Surveillance Program and was published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

Tai said tobacco and nicotine consumption had declined before 2020, but the pandemic may have “temporarily disrupted this trend.”

QAEHS co-author Ben Tasharke says that when faced with extreme stress, people may “turn to things like smoking to reduce anxiety.”

“In Australia, smoking can pose a higher morbidity and mortality risk than COVID-19, so it is important to sustain progress in reducing smoking by supporting smoke-free efforts.”

Australian mental health hit hard by pandemic

The latest findings said Lifeline Australia, a mental health and suicide prevention hotline, had “smashed” its highest ever call volume record on August 20.

Lifeline Australia revealed it received 3,505 calls in 24 hours. This surpassed his record of 3,436 calls on August 16th.

In 2019, Lifeline Australia averaged less than 2,500 calls per day. However, average demand has increased by 20% since then, and by 40% at its peak.

The organization’s chairman, John Brogden, said August 2022 was one of the busiest times in its history.

Pandemic link to alcohol consumption

Meanwhile, research also shows that pandemic restrictions have led to increased spending on alcohol consumption.

Australian National University announced in May 2020 that report Twenty percent of Australians report buying more alcohol than usual since the COVID-19 outbreak, but this pattern has not persisted.

however, study Published in The Lancet in August 2020.

“Psychosocial distress is a well-recognized risk of relapse and increased alcohol consumption, whereas its decrease is associated with reduced economic capacity and reduced availability of on-site alcohol areas (e.g. pubs and bars). It may be related to the decline,” said the study.