Pulling Your Mask down to Smoke: Qualitative Themes from Young Adults on Nicotine Use during a Pandemic

This article was originally published here

Subst Use Misuse. 2021 Jan 13:1-4. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2020.1869264. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in a change in life routines for tobacco users, but little is known about the rationale underlying these changes. Methods: A convenience sample of young adults ages 21-28 (n = 29) were recruited online May-July 2020 to participate in semi-structured interviews about nicotine use behaviors specific to cigarillos and e-cigarettes. Audio-recorded interviews were 60-90 min long and were conducted remotely. Participants were asked opinions and behavioral effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on tobacco use. Verbatim transcripts and field notes from each interview were coded by a trained researcher using a codebook developed using inductive and deductive approaches. Thematic analysis was used to examine product access, use frequency, stress and use triggers. Results: Most current users reported tobacco use stayed the same or increased since the pandemic and attributed this to being home more with greater time/boredom. COVID-19 impacted purchasing behaviors such as purchasing products in greater quantities, through the Internet, or at a different store due to perceived cleanliness. Few reported using tobacco products less frequently and not smoking in public due to the perception of risks associated with smoking and COVID-19, plus having to take off their mask to smoke. Lack of social use modified shared product use, flavors selected, and setting of use. Financial impacts included increased product costs and job loss. Few mentioned wanting to quit due to the pandemic. Discussion: Current tobacco users have experienced major changes in their tobacco use routines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PMID:33435783 | DOI:10.1080/10826084.2020.1869264