2021 Volume 31 Issue 6 Pages 378-386
Background: In April 2020, the Japanese government declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and infection control measures, including requests to work from home and stay-at-home restrictions, were introduced. This study examined changes in smoking behavior during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
Methods: An online cross-sectional survey was conducted in Osaka, Japan. To assess differences in smoking behavior among 5,120 current smokers before and after the declaration of a state of emergency, prevalence ratios (PRs) for two outcomes, increased smoking and quitting smoking, were calculated using multivariable Poisson regression, adjusting for potential covariates.
Results: We found 32.1% increased the number of cigarettes smoked and 11.9% quit smoking. After adjustment for all variables, we found risk factors for COVID-19 (men and older age group) had both significantly higher PR for quitting smoking (men: PR 1.38; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.17–1.62) and participants aged ≥65 years: PR 2.45; 95% CI, 1.92–3.12) and significantly lower PR of increased smoking (men: PR 0.85; 95% CI, 0.78–0.93 and participants ≥65 years: PR 0.38; 95% CI, 0.29–0.49). Additionally, respondents working from home or living alone had significantly higher PR for increased smoking (working from home: PR 1.29; 95% CI, 1.17–1.41 and living alone: PR 1.23; 95% CI, 1.10–1.38) and respondents who changed from cigarettes to heated tobacco products (HTPs) had significantly lower PR for quitting smoking (PR 0.150; 95% CI, 0.039–0.582).
Conclusions: We suggest people who have high-risk factors for COVID-19 might change their smoking behavior for the better, while people who work from home or live alone might change their smoking behavior for the worse, during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Additionally, changing from smoking cigarettes to using HTPs makes smokers less likely to quit.