Cigarette use in America dropped 20% during the pandemic

Cigarette use in America dropped 20% during the pandemic – but over-65s smoked 30% MORE after Covid erupted

  • People smoked significantly less during the Covid pandemic than before
  • Sales of the tobacco products dropped 22 percent during the first two years
  • Doctors warn that smokers could be at an increased risk of Covid complications 

Use of cigarettes in America cratered after the Covid pandemic began, with sales dropping 22 percent, a study finds.

Researchers gathered nationwide cigarette sale data, and compared figures from before and during the pandemic by age, race and geography. They found an overall drop, but over-65s, men and people who live in a household that makes more than $150,000 each year actually smoked more.

Purchases of cigarettes also increased most in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Kentucky – while they significantly fell in Washington DC, Maryland and Colorado.

The research team did not give a reason for the drop in cigarette use, but it is possible that warnings smokers suffer more of a risk from Covid and the financial insecurity many faced during the virus’s reign played a role.

This report comes as US regulators target the tobacco and vape industries in an effort to curb rates of the bad habit.

Overall use of cigarettes dropped 22 percent during the Covid pandemic, as all age groups other than over-65s used tobacco less often

While there is no research showing definitively that smoking cigarettes boosts a person’s risk of serious Covid complications – doctors warned smokers are at a higher risk.

Smoking damages the airways of the lungs and can cause breathing issues for longtime users. 

People who suffer from asthma or COPD – which obstructs the lungs in similar ways, are also believed to be at a higher risk from the virus. 

Job losses and economic downturn at the start of the pandemic could also have pushed many away from the habit.  

Researchers, who published their findings Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, gathered cigarette sales data from 2008 through the end of 2021.

They considered the second quarter of 2020, which started April of that year, to be the start of the pandemic phase of the data. 

Cigarette sales were tracked quarterly packs purchased per capita. To control for different sized boxes, every 20 cigarettes purchased were considered a single pack.

Researchers recorded a 22.3 percent drop in overall cigarette sales during the pandemic.

This was most pronounced among people under 25 – who purchased 8.5 percent less cigarettes after the pandemic started.

Data also shows that rates of young people using vapes dropped during the first year of the pandemic as well – a sign that Covid actually dropped nicotine use across the board among young adults.

Purchases by Americans between aged 25 and 44 fell two percent, and sales dropped 4.8 percent among people 45 to 64.

Interestingly, elderly residents actually smoked more during Covid – even though they suffered the most risk from the virus.

Sales to Americans 65 and older increased 28 percent – though the age group had significantly lower smoking rates both before and after the virus’s eruption.

Researchers found stark geographical differences in smoking behaviors when the virus arrived.

In Pennsylvania, sales of cigarettes jumped more than 15 percent after the pandemic began. 

When counting raw number of packs per member of the population, the average New Hampshire resident purchased two more packs than before Covid each quarter.

The District of Columbia recorded a drop in cigarette usage of around 20 percent, the most of any state. In Colorado and Maryland, there was one less pack purchased per resident of the state.

Reducing smoking in America has become a major goal of the US regulators under President Joe Biden.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has targeted menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes – blaming them for recent increases in nicotine use in America.

Officials estimate that 31million Americans smoke, around 12 percent of all adults.

This is far fall from previous decades, where more than 40 percent of adults used cigarettes at some points. 

One-in-ten cigarette smokers in their 40s suffer cognitive decline – but quitting can reverse the damage

Smoking cigarettes can cause a person to suffer cognitive decline in their 40s, a study finds.

A study of 136,018 participants over the age of 45 by a team at Ohio State University found that 10 percent of smokers middle-aged or older suffered from memory loss and confusion. Overall, smokers were twice as likely to experience brain problems than their peers.

Kicking the bad habit can stop the decline. Former smokers who stopped smoking more than ten years ago were at a 50 percent increased risk of brain issues – half that of current smokers.

Smoking has long been linked to an increased risk of developing cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s, but presentation of these issues in middle-aged people is rare. 

For their research, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers surveyed the sample of nearly 140,000 on their smoking habits, and whether they feel they have suffered memory loss during that period.

They found that eight percent of people who had never smoked in their lives experienced cognitive decline.

Meanwhile, 16 percent of current smokers reported suffering from brain issues and memory loss.

Many of these smokers were of an age considered to be too young to deal with these problems.

Just under 10 percent of participants aged 45 to 49 reported brain issues when surveyed – with researchers noting that these were almost all among smokers.

The rate of cognitive issues reported was similar among survey participants in their fifties.