Cigarette sales went up during first 16 months of pandemic

Posted at 8:53 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 20:53:25-05

For help quitting smoking, call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

More people may have been lighting up cigarettes during the pandemic.

According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, cigarette sales from March 2020 (when the pandemic began) to June 2021 showed an increase of 14%, compared to prepandemic numbers. The research, which was published in the fall of 2021, noted that the declining trend in sales that have taken place over the last several years appeared to have slowed with the pandemic.

Dr. Elliott Twiggs, a doctor affiliated with the University of Washington School of Medicine, specializes in smoking cessation. According to Twiggs, a lot of his patients have started either smoking more tobacco or people picking up the habit again.

Twiggs offered the idea that stress has been a contributing factor for many people.

“Many people don’t find this is a good time to quit, just because of all the stress that’s going on in their lives. They absolutely can’t imagine that. Also, people who really want to quit but just don’t feel like this is a good time to do it,” Twiggs said.

The study did not specify whether the increase in sales was due to people who have smoked for years, those returning to the habit, or first-time smokers.

Twigg advised those who think a loved one is struggling with smoking to speak up and be patient.

"I would ask for permission to talk about it, see if they're OK with that—and if they are, tell them how concerned you are,” he said. “Be open and flexible and try to be nonjudgmental. It is so worth doing because we know how harmful tobacco use can be for people.”

Olivia Fecteau is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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