During the pandemic, many people prioritised fitness and health. This included dietary changes and millions of people getting involved in home workouts. We might assume this resulted in a positive change for smokers too.
But data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open suggests that quitting smoking is on the decline.
The team of researchers conducted the cross-sectional study using 2011 to 2020 data on close to 800 thousand individuals who had smoked in the past year from the nationally representative Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. Representative retail scanner sales data between January 2017 and July 2021 for 1004 unique nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) universal produce codes in 31 U.S. states from NielsenIQ were also used.
The data shows that quit attempts among U.S. smokers decreased from 65.2 per cent in 2019 to 63.2 per cent in 2020. Media outlet EurekaAlert! explains: “These decreases are most prevalent amongst persons known to have experienced disproportionately negative outcomes during the Covid-19 pandemic, including middle-aged persons, those with two or more comorbidities, Black persons, and lower educated persons.”
“These results remind us how critical it is for clinicians and healthcare systems to support persons who smoke with evidence-based quitting strategies,” said Dr. William Dahut, chief scientific officer at the American Cancer Society. “Such efforts must be particularly targeted to persons disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including Black persons, middle-aged persons, those with comorbidities and lower educated persons.”
“Tobacco is the number one, preventable cause of cancer and is responsible for up to one-third of all cancer deaths,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), ACS’s advocacy affiliate. “We know quitting tobacco isn’t easy, so we must do everything in our power to ensure individuals trying to quit have access to the cessation services they need.”