Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco (snus and nicotine pouches) are prevalent among youth and young adults in Denmark. Here, we examined the extent of changes in the use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco during the first COVID-19 lockdown in March and April 2020 in Denmark as well as reasons for changed behavior.
This study used data from a nationwide survey conducted among 15- to 29-year-olds from January to March 2021 including 13,530 respondents (response rate = 36.0%). Logistic regression analyses assessed the associations between sociodemographic characteristics and the odds of initiating or increasing as well as trying to stop or decreasing cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use.
The prevalence of cigarette smoking was 17.8% and 10.5% reported using smokeless tobacco. Around 40% of those currently smoking cigarettes reported smoke on par during the COVID-19 lockdown as before, 24.5% started to smoke or increased their smoking, and 27.4% tried to stop or smoked less. Approximately 37% used smokeless tobacco on the same level as before the COVID-19 lockdown, 38.8% initiated or used more, and 14.1% tried to stop or used less. Females were more prone to initiate smokeless tobacco use and increase their level of smoking during the lockdown, and younger participants smoked less. More females compared with males changed their smoking behaviors due to their mood, and more younger participants did so due to fewer social gatherings.
Although most youths and young adults’ tobacco behaviors remained the same during the COVID-19 lockdown, many also increased or decreased their behaviors – especially females and younger participants.
This study enables the possibility of detecting new tendencies in smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco among subgroups of the population during the COVID-19 lockdown. This knowledge is crucial for identifying which groups of youths are vulnerable to increasing their tobacco use in other pandemic situations and which groups call for special attention after the lockdown period. Future efforts may focus on vulnerable groups affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as females, and there is a need to monitor closely whether youth tobacco use changes as society becomes more normalized.