The impact of COVID-19 on smoking patterns in Pakistan: findings from a longitudinal survey of smokers

Kamran Siddiqi, Faraz Siddiqui, Amina Khan, Saeed Ansaari, Mona Kanaan, Mariam Khokhar, Ziauddin Islam, Masuma Pervin Mishu, Linda Bauld
2020 Nicotine & Tobacco Research  
Introduction We investigated the influence of COVID-19 on smoking patterns in Pakistan. Methods In a longitudinal survey, we asked cigarette smokers in Pakistan about their smoking behaviours before and since COVID-19. Smokers were recruited before COVID-19 using two-stage random probability sampling. Since COVID-19, three subsequent waves were conducted over the telephone, asking additional questions on social determinants, mental health and wellbeing. Based on the first two waves, we
more » ... the proportion of smokers who stopped, decreased, maintained, or increased smoking. We also explored any factors associated with the change in smoking patterns. In those who stopped smoking soon after COVID-19, we estimated the proportion relapsed in subsequent waves. We estimated all proportions based on complete-case analysis. Results We recruited 6,014 smokers between September 2019 and February 2020; of these, 2,087 (2,062 reported smoking outcomes) were followed up in May 2020 after COVID-19. Since COVID-19, 14% (290/2,062) smokers reported quitting. Among those who continued smoking: 68% (1210/1772) reduced, 14% (239/1772) maintained, and 18% (323/1772) increased cigarette consumption; 37% (351/938) reported at least one quit attempt; 41% (669/1619) were more motivated while 21% (333/1619) were less motivated to quit. Changes in smoking patterns varied with nicotine dependence, motivation to quit, and financial stability since COVID-19. Among those reporting quitting soon after COVID-19, 39% (81/206) relapsed in the subsequent months (June-July 2020). Conclusions There have been significant bidirectional changes in smoking patterns since COVID-19 in Pakistan. While many people stopped, reduced, or tried quitting smoking, some increased smoking, and some relapsed after quitting. Implications We observed significant and complex changes in people's smoking patterns, which are likely to be attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic and replicated in similar events in the future. Assessing these changes are essential for most low- and middle-income countries like Pakistan, where the vast majority of tobacco users live, but cessation support is still rudimentary. If provided routinely, smoking cessation interventions can potentially support millions of highly motivated individuals in quitting successfully both in general as well as in global events like COVID-19, in particular.
doi:10.1093/ntr/ntaa207 pmid:33029618 fatcat:dp6fzpocebfsnmww5ohhxkjvqm