COVID-19 has become a global pandemic, with over 81 million cases worldwide. To assess changes in tobacco use as a result of the pandemic, we surveyed a convenience sample of current tobacco users between April and June 2020. The sample was taken from a tobacco user research registry (n = 3396) from the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA. Participants who responded to the survey and were eligible for this study (n = 291) were 25.6% male, 93% white, and had a mean age of 47.3 (SD = 11.6) years. There were no reports of participants testing positive for COVID-19, but 21.7% reported experiencing symptoms associated with the virus. Most participants (67%) believed that their risk of contracting COVID-19 was the same as non-tobacco users, but 57.7% believed that their risk of serious complications, if infected, was greater compared to non-tobacco users. A total of 28% reported increasing their cigarette use during the pandemic. The most common reasons for increased use were increased stress, more time at home, and boredom while quarantined. Nearly 15% reported decreasing their tobacco use. The most common reasons for reduced use were health concerns and more time around non-smokers (including children). A total of 71 (24.5%) users reported making a quit attempt. Characterizing these pandemic-related changes in tobacco use may be important to understanding the full scope of subsequent health outcomes resulting from the pandemic. Tobacco cessation resources should be tailored to allow for safe, appropriate access for those interested in quitting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1795
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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