A recent study in the EU shows that the number of smokers has increased during the corona pandemic.
Long-term study: Smoking before and after Corona
In Germany, there is more smoker again. The Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf is conducting what it says is a representative long-term study. According to this German survey on smoking behaviour (Debra), the proportion of smokers among people aged 14 and over is now 31% nationwide, while at the end of 2019, it was still around 27%.
According to epidemiologist Daniel Kotz, head of the addiction research focus at the Center for Health and Society of the University Hospital Düsseldorf, a decisive proportion should be made up of relapsing smokers who had already quit but are now reaching for a cigarette again. A negative trend had already been seen in this regard: the so-called smoking cessation attempt rate, i.e. the proportion of those motivated to quit smoking, was declining. However, there is a positive development: young people do not even start to smoke.
And yet the problem should not be underestimated. After all, 13% of all annual deaths are attributed to smoking. The environment also suffers from the massive consumption of cigarettes, with around 4.5 trillion cigarette butts ending up in nature yearly and the deforestation of 200,000 hectares of forest yearly.
Possible backgrounds for the increasing numbers
A possible explanation for the growing number of smokers is loneliness or stress in the Covid 19 pandemic. “Whether corona stress or the general effects of the pandemic are playing a role is a bit speculative, but it can be,” Kotz told the German Press Agency.
A Forsa survey commissioned by the commercial health insurance company KKH now backs these speculations: 17% smoked cigarettes more frequently during the pandemic, with the leading causes being stress in the home office and a lack of social control. Many people’s everyday lives have changed drastically due to the corona pandemic. This can cause stress and insecurity in people with a pre-existing mental illness and in previously healthy people, which are considered ideal breeding grounds for the development of addictions.
Alcohol Is Also Increasingly Drunk At Home
A survey has shown that something similar can also be observed in connection with alcohol consumption, where the number of consumers has remained the same despite fewer opportunities to drink together (in view of the closure of restaurants and contact restrictions). In particular, alcohol consumption has shifted to groups of people who have been drinking alcohol at home but have now significantly increased their consumption to drive away loneliness, boredom or worries.
According to Falk Kiefer, addiction doctor and medical director of the Central Institute for Mental Health in Mannheim, multiple stressors caused by children in homeschooling or spouses in the home office are decisive stress factors.
How do we tackle the problem? A look at England
But how do you deal with this development, causing doctors and experts great concern? One way to effectively reduce smoking is to encourage the switch to the less harmful alternative, the e-cigarette, which is happening in the UK.
Based on studies, the British Ministry of Health has officially estimated the risk of e-cigarettes to be at least 95% lower than tobacco cigarettes since 2015, while Public Health England even assumes a 99.5% lower cancer risk. The e-cigarette has always been officially promoted in Great Britain by the government and recommended by doctors to stop smoking. We have also explained the health hazards of e-cigarettes in this article. A decisive advantage is that e-cigarettes offer the possibility of freely regulating the nicotine content, with which one can gradually wean oneself off nicotine.
Therefore, Germany’s plan to include e-cigarettes under the tobacco tax does not appear sensible. You can find out more here. Sweden’s approach is much more effective: since the introduction of a restrictive smoking ban (e.g., in front of pubs and at bus stops), the government has reduced the number of smokers to just 7% – the lowest value in Europe.
The essential things in a nutshell
Finally, we would like to give you the most important information again.
The number of smokers over 14 has increased from around 27% to 31% due to the corona pandemic. About 17% say they smoke more than before.
The main reasons are stress in the home office/school, loneliness and a lack of social control.
The devastating consequences of cigarettes for health and the environment are well known.
A much better alternative here is the TPD vape, which has already been considered significantly less harmful to health in countless studies.
Therefore, the British government focuses on e-cigarettes to protect its citizens’ health and is cooperating with doctors and health authorities to help people switch to e-cigarettes.