Stress, nervousness, worries about the future. Staying locked within the four home walls, gripped by bad thoughts and surrounded by the dramatic news about the Coronavirus epidemic has not helped smokers, predictably. Aided by the psychological and family tension, during the lockdown the habits of the smokers worsened: although the consumers of traditional cigarettes decreased, in fact the number of heated tobacco and electronic cigarettes increased. The number of Italians who tried them for the first time during the two months of total closure is also high. And, among traditional cigarette smokers, those who failed to quit, have increased the number of daily cigarettes. These are the data presented today, on the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day which is celebrated on May 31, by the Istituto Superiore di Sanit (Iss), which collected them in collaboration with the Mario Negri Pharmacological Research Institute, the Vita-Salute S. Raffaele University, the Institute for Study, Prevention and the Oncological Network (ISPRO) and the Doxa.
630 thousand Italians have managed to quit, many young people
The survey, conducted precisely with the aim of understanding the effects of the lockdown on the smoking habits of Italians, was carried out in April 2020 by anonymously filling out an online questionnaire. From the data it emerges that, during the lockdown, in our country the percentage of traditional smokers dropped from 23.3% to 21.9%: 1.4 percentage points less which, for the ISS, correspond to an estimate of about 630 thousand fewer smokers (about 334 thousand men and 295 thousand women). About 206 thousand young people between 18-34 years have stopped, 270 thousand compatriots between 35 and 54 years and about 150 thousand between 55 and 74 years. To these is added a further 3.5% of the population which, although not completely ceasing the consumption of tobacco products, has nevertheless decreased the quantity. The survey data – says Roberta Pacifici, director of the National Addiction and Doping Center of the ISS – tell us that the highly motivated smoker can make it to quit and that situations of particular health emergency can become a great health opportunity.
4 million countrymen have smoked more, especially women
To offset this good news, there are unfortunately almost 4 million Italians (3.9 million, about 9% of the population) who have increased tobacco consumption or have started to smoke: in detail, 8.55 has increased the number of cigarettes daily and 218 thousand people have started. Precisely the average consumption of cigarettes per day passed from 10.9 to 12.7 and the percentage of increase in women’s daily cigarettes is particularly high (equal to 15.2% compared to 3.6% found in men). Smoking among the scientifically certain causes of 25 different diseases, including many types of cancer (nasal cavities, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, liver, colon, pancreas, kidney, ureter, ovary, cervix, uterine leukemia, myeloid leukemia) , but also cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. This is why it continues to be the leading preventable cause of death in the whole of the West and kills more than 70,000 people in our country every year, however almost 11 million Italians continue to smoke every day.
Electronic cigarettes, vapors are growing
Users (occasional and habitual together) of electronic cigarettes
before the lockdown they were 8.1% of the Italian population (18-74 years). During the emergency closure from Covid-19 the percentage rose to 9.1%: about 436 thousand more people. Among those who use e-cig and who have worsened their habits, 38.9% have increased the number of puffs, 18% have regularly resumed using it, 17% were an occasional consumer and became habitual (every day ), 13% used it rarely (1-2 times in their lives) and became a regular consumer, 13% had never tried it before the lockdown, but started.
Heated tobacco: many have started
The users (occasional and habitual) of heated tobacco products before the lockdown were 4.1% of Italians (18-74 years), or approximately 1,787,600 people. In the midst of an epidemic, the percentage rose to 4.4% with an increase in users of approximately 130,800 people. Among those who aggravated their condition: 45.0% started using them, 23.1% was an occasional consumer and became habitual (every day), 18.6% rarely used it (1-2 times in life) and became a regular consumer, 13.4% started using them again during the lockdown. To increase the use of heated tobacco products are mainly young people (18-34 years) and adults (35-54 years), those with a high level of education, those who live with children and those who already used occasionally or regularly the Electronic Cigarette. The percentage of those who use both heated tobacco and significantly higher e-cig among those who admit to having alcohol consumption “at risk”, to consume cannabis or to practice gambling (gambling).
Green telephone and smoke-free centers: fewer but longer calls
The ISS Green Telephone against smoking (number 800 554088), an anonymous and free national service that carries out consultancy on issues related to the smoking phenomenon. During the lockdown, operators managed an average of 31 calls per day (52 during the period above), but the length of each conversation doubled from about 8 minutes to about 15 minutes. Calls for smokers with related smoking conditions and for incentives to quit for fear of being more vulnerable to Covid-19 have increased. On the part of the operators, the offer of smoking cessation routes has increased exponentially (from 3% to 18%, or from 150 routes activated in 9 months to 172 during the lockdown period) and the offer of information on health (from 33% to 63%) and psychological support (from 4% to 8%). There was no shortage of calls from family members of smokers who found themselves subjected to secondhand smoke at home or parents of teenagers who aware of the use of smoking products by their children. Over the past three months, many Anti-Smoking Centers have been supporting the coronavirus emergency by making rooms or staff available and at the same time continuing their activities by offering users remote assistance (telephone calls, SMS, video calls).
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