According to a new release by the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco usage among adults dropped during the first year of the pandemic. While 17.3% of Pennsylvania adults smoked cigarettes in 2019, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number went down to 15.8% in 2020. 4.7% of adults used e-cigarettes, while 4.2% of adults used smokeless tobacco such as snuff and chewing tobacco.
Some data has shown that while there have also been cases of individuals using more tobacco products during the pandemic due to stress, boredom, and the accessibility of smoking while working from home, in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and after several years of anti-tobacco campaigns and age requirement legislation, smoking rates in Pennsylvania have decreased.
Tobacco use and smoking remain the most preventable cause of death in the United States. The CDC’s smoking prevention campaign, Tips From Former Smokers (TIPS), has helped thousands of Pennsylvanians call the smoking quitline. Between March 23rd and October 8th 2020, the Pennsylvania state quitline received over 11,000 calls, a 45% increase from 2019.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the state of Pennsylvania committed to prioritizing health care access for those who smoke. For example, smokers were among the first recipients of vaccines in early 2021. Governor Tom Wolf doubled down on the strategy, stating, “we’re trying to recognize people who are vulnerable to COVID, and it turns out that smokers are…They’re making a very objective health care decision – that if you’re a smoker, you are predisposed to certain pulmonary problems that make you a prime candidate for getting a severe case of covid.”
These tobacco prevention campaigns will help reduce tobacco usage for Pennsylvanians for years to come. Additionally, increased health awareness from the COVID-19 pandemic will help Pennsylvanians keep making healthier choices.